Nantwich Town vs Matlock Town FC
The Weaver StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
Nantwich Town 0-1 Matlock Town
Reece Kendall netted for the second successive game to give the Gladiators a hugely impressive away victory against a hugely talented Nantwich Town on Tuesday night.
The decider came in the 62nd minute and it was a very similar goal to the one he notched against Hyde United at the weekend, being on the end of a superb ball in from the right by Alex Byrne to power in his header at the back post.
It was sufficient to earn Matlock a third successive win, how they will be kicking themselves for a below par performance in the opening day defeat at Ashton.
Overall this was Matlock’s best performance of the season, given the calibre of the opposition and them being without three of their leading lights in Ross Hannah through suspension, Callum Chippendale through illness and Liam Hughes being unavailable due to personal reasons.
There was a debut for 6’2” striker Jerome Greaves, signed on loan from Rotherham with Jesurun Uchegbulam backing him up. Declan Walker came in for Hannah.
Nantwich made a positive start as they sought to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat at Whitby on Saturday. Midfielder Sean Cooke was alert from a quickly taken throw to fire a good effort down Shaun Rowley’s throat in the opening minute. Rowley then palmed clear a teasing right wing cross from Joel Stair who had run from deep and Shaun Miller headed an 11th minute centre at Rowley.
At the other end Greaves had a half hit shot which Nantwich cleared before Ryan Qualter burst forward and saw his long range blast deflected for a corner, resulting in Kendall’s header being well saved by Cameron Terry who was named as the sponsor’s home player of the match.
Walker shot wide after an initial strike had been blocked before Matlock’s excellent defensive work was again emphasised with Jamie Sharman snuffing out the threat of Miller. Tommy Montifiero’s 32nd minute shot was always drifting wide in a compelling and entertaining game, despite the blank scoreline.
Matlock might have gone in front in the final seconds before half time, Terry brilliantly tipping a vicious free kick from Byrne over the bar.
Callum Saunders, watched from the sidelines by his father, former Derby and Wales striker Dean Saunders, speculatively hammered wide from distance from a throw on the right in the first action of the second period, Uchegbulam then firing off target when well placed.
But Matlock were starting to turn the screw, looking increasingly dangerous and it was perhaps fitting that two of Matlock’s most consistent players so far this term, Byrne and Kendall would fashion the decisive goal.
Two minutes after going ahead, it ought to have been better for Matlock when Terry lost the ball out on the Matlock left, Alex Wiles having a marvellous opportunity but his shot struck a defender to rattle the sidenetting.
Shortly afterwards Walker won possession deep in the Dabbers’ half to feed Uchegbulam who scuffed a soft effort at Terry.
Jerome Greaves was replaced by Oli Greaves with twenty minutes left, the former having grown into the game on his debut. Byrne headed a great Kendall cross wide at the back post before Byrne broke clear, his low shot being pushed around a post by Terry with Oli Greaves waiting for the cross.
Sam Egerton produced two immaculately timed tackles to deny Nantwich a way back but again it was Matlock who looked the more likely to find the second goal of the contest. After Prince Haywood tripped Uchegbulam to be booked, Byrne struck another superb free kick which Terry did equally well to fingertip to safety.
The Dabbers forced a couple of corners in quick succession in a vain attempt to equalise, but a steely and determined Matlock refused to wilt and Haywood was a little fortunate to avoid a second yellow card as he fouled Byrne en route to the home goal.
Nantwich also had Stair booked while two cautions for Matlock went to Mark Lees and Byrne.
On chances alone, Matlock deserved their win, it could have been more comfortable had they been more clinical, but it was a result they would have settled for on the way to South East Cheshire.
A first away win of the season plus a clean sheet, it was more like the Matlock of last season before Covid intervened.
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Cameron Terry 2 Joel Stair 3 Troy Bourne 4 Ben Harrison 5 Josh Langley 6 Casper Hughes 7 Prince Haywood 8 Callum Saunders 9 Shaun Miller (16 Joe Mwasile 68) 10 Sean Cooke 11 Tommy Montefiero (15 Luke Walsh 57) Other subs: 12 Matty Devine 14 James Lawrie 17 Jack Hatton
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Shaun Rowley 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Reece Kendall 4 Sam Egerton 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Alex Wiles 9 Jerome Greaves (17 Oli Greaves 70) 10 Declan Walker 11 Jesurun Uchegbulam (16 Jonathan Wafula 86) Other subs: 12 Ashton Hall 14 Lirak Hasani 15 Craig King
REFEREE: Oliver Nolan (Macclesfield) ATTENDANCE: 371 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Byrne