Matlock Town FC vs Morpeth Town
Matlock Town FC0
The Proctor Cars StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town 0-0 Morpeth Town
Although this was Matlock’s third scoreless draw in succession, lady luck seemed to be against them in a largely dominant performance against seventh placed Morpeth who still had an eye on a play off spot themselves.
The Gladiators’ commitment was again top notch, they mixed their play intelligently , sometimes opting for a direct style with the long ball and at other times playing some neat football through their midfield. While there was disappointment and frustration at the end that they couldn’t find the win their performance deserved, there had been encouraging signs that they were finding their good form from earlier in the season.
Terry Hawkridge came in for Danny Greenfield in the number ten role, this being the one change from the team which had drawn with Radcliffe in midweek but captain Liam Hughes was deployed in a deeper slot with Jesurun Uchegbulam playing a lone striker’s role. Deadline day signing Adam Blakeley was a substitute.
Al Byrne set the tone for the afternoon with a first minute strike which was straight at goalkeeper Dan Lowson who would go on to be Morpeth’s saviour.
However Morpeth had their moments, particularly on 11 minutes when top scorer Andrew Johnson glanced his header wide from a corner when well placed. But Matlock had made the better start and Hughes saw his header drop narrowly past an upright shortly afterwards.
Even Adam Yates was trying to end the scoring draught, his twenty five yarder being well blocked by the visiting defence.
From a 20th minute free kick sent in by Byrne, Hughes rose to plant a header on to the top of the net before Hawkridge might have had his first goal in Matlock colours, Uchegbulam teasing the Morpeth defence on the left to set up Hawkridge whose fierce drive was superbly blocked by a Morpeth defender.
But then Matlock were caught suddenly on the counter, with Ryan Donaldson volleying over from ten yards out when he should have at least made goalkeeper Joe Young work.
Jack Foalle’s header was comfortably too high before Matlock piled on the pressure in the minutes leading up to the interval.
Lowson was down quickly at full stretch to claw out Callum Chippendale’s shot and recovering quickly to grab the ball from the onrushing Byrne. If that was a great save, his next one from Chippendale on 44 minutes was world class, the Matlock number eight smashing in what looked to be an unstoppable effort until Lowson tipped the ball to safety.
Then came a moment which summed up Matlock’s luck as Ryan Qualter rose to direct his header goalwards, the ball dropping on to the line off the bar before being desperately cleared by the North Easterners defence .Some fans claimed the ball had gone over the line.
Hughes drove directly at Lowson after good work on the left from Uchegbulam three minutes after the resumption before Matlock survived Morpeth’s best opportunity two minutes later when Young made a fantastic double block save to deny Ben Ramsay on the left.
But Matlock kept on trying and trying to break the deadlock, Byrne having a deflected shot gathered by Lowson before another Hughes header from Byrne’s corner was again too high.
The big number nine was unfortunate on 69 minutes though, his measured low shot from fifteen yards towards the bottom corner being well saved down to his left by Lowson after an excellent build up involving Byrne and substitute Greenfield.
Donaldson drove off target for Morpeth who surprisingly in their position seemed to be settling for a point.
Matlock kept going until the end, Uchegbulam weaving in from the left to fire wildly high and wide late on being their last opportunity.
Results elsewhere, with nobody in the top seven winning, play off rivals Sacarborough and Warrington losing to Nantwich and Mickleover respectively, actually strengthened Matlock’s play off hopes. Things would have been even better with that little stroke of luck in front of goal and without Lowson being on top form.
So Matlock had to be content with their second 0-0 double of the season.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Joe Young 2 Adam Yates 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Callum Chippendale 9 Liam Hughes 10 Terry Hawkridge (12 Danny Greenfield 64) 11 Jesurun Uchegbulam Other subs: 14 Luke Daly 15 Ross Hannah 16 Jamie Sharman 17 Adam Blakeley
MORPETH TOWN: 1 Dan Lowson 2 Ryan Wombwell 3 Stephen Foster 4 Ben Sayer 5 Jeff Henderson 6 Michael Turner 7 Jack Foalle 8 Liam Noble 9 Ben Ramsay 10 Ryan Donaldson 11 Andrew Johnson Subs-not used 12 Callum Morris 14 Connor Oliver 15 Wayne Phillips 16 Joe Walton 17 Chris Reid .
REFEREE: Jake Topp (Salford) ATTENDANCE: 501 BEST GLADIATOR: Ioan Evans