Matlock Town FC vs Radcliffe FC
Matlock Town FC2
The Proctor Cars StadiumNorthern Premier League
MATLOCK TOWN 2-2 RADCLIFFE
A last gasp leveller denied Matlock all three points in a game largely dominated by an impressive looking Radcliffe side in the driving rain at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday.
There was literally seconds remaining when Matty Crothers hoisted in a cross from the right which goalkeeper Luke Jackson failed to collect allowing left wing back CONNOR O’BRIEN to gleefully shoot home.
It was a sickener for Matlock who looked like holding out for the extra points despite unrelenting Radcliffe pressure.
Earlier Matlock had led twice through debut boy Eddie Church and midfielder Brad Abbott with former Gladiator Jude Obiyo netting Radcliffe’s first equaliser.
Town boss Craig Elliott made five changes to his starting line up following the heavy defeat at Bamber Bridge seven days earlier. In came defender Jaz Goundry, midfielders Abbott and Alex Wiles and strikers Kieran Brown and Church. Jamie Sharman, Mark Lees and Kallan Murphy were on the bench, Simon Njaria was injured while Bart Cybulski had been recalled by Derby County and loaned out to National League Solihull Moors.
With both clubs on the cusp of the play-offs in a tight division, a competitive but fair game evolved with Oyibu having the first attempt of note shooting at Jackson after a break down the left.
Matlock replied soon afterwards with a smart move which saw John Johnston and Wiles link cleverly to provide the chance for Brown to fire goalwards with Radcliffe goalkeeper Tom Stewart doing well to claw away the strike.
But another great Matlock move saw them break the deadlock after 12 minutes, Johnston again at the heart of the move as he found Brown on the left, his pin-point low cross being swept home by CHURCH for an outstanding goal.
Church would go close again eleven minutes later, a free kick being played deep into the box to be headed away by Rick Smith but Matlock kept the pot on the boil with Jordan Barnett crossed again for Church to nod narrowly wide.
Radcliffe were playing some excellent inter-passing football to push Matlock back and from a move of this ilk, Oyibu set up Jem Karacan whose long distance shot was off target.
Karacan was on the end of another move soon afterwards, gain the build up was slick with O’Brien finding space on the left to cross and Karacan at the back post planted his header over the bar.
The Matlock lead looked increasingly slender as Radcliffe increased the pressure further in the build up to the interval, Jackson pulling off a fine stop to deny Matthew Grivosti who was then foiled again by a superb covering goal-line clearance from Al Byrne.
Matlock would be pleased and relieved to go into the warmth of the dressing room with a one goal advantage but that was soon taken away from them four minutes into the second half when Grivosti drove into the penalty box to roll a short pass to OYIBU who shot firmly home for a deserved leveller.
Oyibu went close again blasting narrowly wide and player manager Bobby Grant was looking up to the heavens in disbelief when his acrobatic overhead kick was brilliantly kept out by Jackson.
Radcliffe were dominant now as a move made up of about thirty passes ended with Grant heading a Grivosti cross too high when well placed.
But Matlock might have stolen the lead in the 67th minute when substitute Murphy could only knock an inviting Johnston cross wide. A reminder to Radcliffe that they needed to be more clinical!
Jackson was again well placed to keep out Grivosti’s shot, the on loan Bolton man having been picked out by veteran former Football League midfielder Neil Adams.
But despite all of their great attacking play, Radcliffe were in real danger of losing all three points, especially when Matlock regained the lead with another well worked goal with twelve minutes left.
Wiles chased a Johnston pass down the left and with Radcliffe having switched off at the back, he cut inside to find ABBOTT with a fine pass, the number eight completing the move with a firm shot past Stewart.
Church and Abbott had scored the goals, were Matlock going to benefit from divine intervention?
That answer should have been yes although Radcliffe continued to drive forward. Jackson misjudged an Adams free kick and Matlock gratefully hacked the ball clear. Four minutes of additional time were signalled and Matlock spent virtually all of that pinned back. Just when it seemed that had done enough, Radcliffe got their reward with a fortuitous goal from O’Brien but few could deny that the visitors deserved a point at the very least from an entertaining encounter.
Matlock had the three points in their grasp, the extra two would have taken them above Radcliffe and a rise of three places to sixth. Fine margins in what is an increasingly tight and competitive division.
Manager Craig Elliott praised Matlock’s resilience after the previous week’s horror show.
“Radcliffe controlled large parts of the second half, I couldn’t question our reaction to last week, we showed great character and resilience."
Matlock needed to against probably the best footballing side they have faced so far this season.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Luke Jackson 2 Ioan Evans 3 Jordan Barnett 4 Alex Wiles 5 Jaz Goundry 6 Ryan Qualter 7 Al Byrne 8 Brad Abbott 9 Eddie Church (12 Mark Lees 58) 10 John Johnston ( 17 Jorome Slew 85) 11 Kieran Brown (14 Kallan Murphy 56) Other subs: 15 Jamie Sharman 16 Akeem Hinds
RADCLIFFE: 1 Tom Stewart 2 Jack Evans 3 Connor O’Brien 4 Luke Joyce 5 Rick Smith 6 Oliver Thornley 7 Matthew Grivosti 8 Nick Adams 9 Jude Obiyo (12 Luca Navarro 74) 10 Bobby Grant 11 Jem Karacan(17 Matty Crothers 80) Other subs: 14 Jake Thompson 15 Gareth Evans 16 George Mercer
REFEREE: Sam Wesson (Leicester) ATTENDANCE: 569 BEST GLADIATOR: Brad Abbott