Matlock Town FC vs Grantham Town
Matlock Town FC0
The Proctor Cars StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town 0-0 Grantham Town
Matlock had to be content with a draw from their home clash with foot of the table Grantham Town in a fiercely fought contest at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night.
Most people would have been expecting the table topping hosts to win but Grantham have improved considerably in recent weeks with some astute signings and will feel their point was well deserved.
However Grantham’s plight is a serious one, and although it was their third successive away draw all in the space of a week, the Gingerbreads were desperate for maximum points.
Matlock boss Paul Phillips rang the changes after the poor performance in the 1-0 defeat to Lancaster at the weekend. Jamie Sharman, Alex Wiles, Marcus Marshall and Callum Chippendale, all starters against the Dolly Blues being replaced by Liam King, Luke Daly, Ross Hannah and Terry Hawkridge. Tuesday’s signing, striker Reece Webb-Foster from Colne, was on the substitute’s bench. The visitors started with three former Gladiators, defenders Ashton Hall and James Williamson and winger Jonathan Wafula, with another, midfielder Harry Wood on the bench.
Matlock would have wished to have got off to a storming start but an enthusiastic Grantham simply didn’t allow that to happen. They pressed Matlock at every opportunity restricting the Gladiators’ scoring opportunities.
A sliced Reece Kendall volley bounced wide in the 10th minute before some Grantham pressure brought them three corners on the trot with the chunky Elliott Durrell whipping in some vicious deliveries, the second of which was brilliantly tipped away from danger by goalkeeper Joe Young.
But Matlock were left cursing the referee in the 22nd minute when Keegan Townrow clearly handled in the box but match official Anthony Tankard waved away the hosts’ appeals. Matlock have only been awarded one solitary spot kick all season.
Captain Liam Hughes drove yards over the bar from twenty five yards and striking partner Ross Hannah pulled a shot wide shortly afterwards, but Matlock were struggling to create anything clear cut.
When Grantham countered, Kendall, playing as one of three central defenders, produced a magnificent block to cut out Lee Shaw’s cross which would have left Ricky Miller with a great shooting chance.
Towards the end of the half both sides had chances to break the deadlock. Grantham custodian James Pollard did well to palm away a header from Kendall, the Gingerbreads instantly breaking at pace for Miller to cross from the left and Young did well to tip Shaw’s header over the bar.
Matlock showed more intent in the second period and although Young produced a good block to deny Durrell and some corners which Young claimed with authority, Matlock had most of the chances.
Grantham uncomfortably squirmed a corner clear within the opening ninety seconds, this being quickly followed by Pollard dashing off his line to concede a corner with Hughes bearing down on goal through the middle. Hughes headed the flag kick narrowly over.
The ball burst shortly afterwards from Kendall’s strong block tackle on Wafula.
Matlock won three free kicks in great positions, Byrne curling his efforts off target on all three occasions. Earlier in the season, at least one of these would have hit the net.
The Gladiators made a double change with Webb-Foster making his debut and Wiles coming on with Hawkridge and Hannah the men to make way. Grantham copied Matlock within a minute with Isaac Stones and Wood replacing Shaw and Shane Clarke.
Hughes glanced a Byrne cross wide before on 67 minutes nearly everyone in the stadium expected the Grantham net to bulge when Kendall swung in a pin point cross from the left and Byrne, lunging forward saw his power packed header fly inches wide of Pollard’s right hand post.
King’s shot from the edge of the penalty box was charged down as Grantham worked their socks off to repel Matlock who all too often, wasted excellent chances through a lack of blue shirts in the danger area.
Durrell received the sole yellow card for cynically bringing down Byrne and deep into stoppage time Pollard somehow managed to grab the ball on the line from a whipped Byrne free kick.
In one last throw of the dice, Kendall’s long range strike was again charged down and Matlock again were frustrated for the second home game in three days when they have dropped five points.
But solace came with the news of South Shields’ defeat at nine men Morpeth meaning the Mariners have also let slip five points meaning that the Gladiators three point lead at the top was re-established.
But Matlock know they will have to rediscover the winning habit urgently as results won’t continue to go their way all of the time.
The effort was clearly there but the quality was lacking, now it’s time to focus again on the attributes which have sent them to the summit.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Joe Young 2 Liam King (17 Callum Chippendale 77) 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Luke Daly 9 Liam Hughes 10 Ross Hannah (12 Alex Wiles 58) 11 Terry Hawkridge (15 Reece Webb-Foster 58) Other subs: 14 Jamie Sharman 16 Jack Hindle
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Jim Pollard 2 Sisa Tuntulawana 3 Ashton Hall 4 Shane Clarke (15 Harry Wood 59) 5 Keegan Townrow 6 James Williamson 7 Jonathan Wafula 8 Elliott Durrell 9 Ricky Miller 10 Lee Shaw (12 Isaac Stones 59 ) 11 Ellis Storey Other subs: 14 Thomas Unwin 16 Ali Aydemar 17 Jack Gurney
REFEREE: Anthony Tankard (Sheffield) ATTENDANCE: 458 BEST GLADIATOR: Reece Kendall