South Shields vs Matlock Town FC
1st Cloud ArenaNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
SOUTH SHIELDS 1-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock returned home from the First Cloud Arena, home of clear league leaders and title favourites South Shields with a deserved point at the end of a tough week.
Having dropped five points in two tough home matches with Warrington Town and Guiseley, Saturday afternoon’s trip to the North East was undoubtedly a daunting one. But Martin Carruthers’ troops pulled out all the stops to go in front on merit in the first half through Connor Dimaio only for the predicted onslaught of a reply from Shields after the interval. Matlock were just five minutes away from a glorious win when substitute Lewis Asselandra rescued a point for the Mariners.
Having got so close, there was a tinge of disappointment that they could not hold on but the bigger picture was that Matlock had gone toe to toe with comfortably the best side in the division on their own patch in front of a 2047 crowd and had emerged with great credit. They would most certainly have accepted a point when they left the Proctor Cars Stadium at 8.30 am.
Carruthers made two changes to the starting line up, Jim Pollard replacing Saul Deeney between the posts, Deeney having an ankle injury while Karl Demidh was preferred to Jorome Slew in attack.
Jamie Sharman was under immediate pressure which was exacerbated when he lunged in on Dylan Motley-Henry and was booked by Darlington referee Glen Hart with only ninety seconds on the clock. Motley-Henry would fire into the sidenetting at the near post after the free kick.
Within a minute Matlock had responded with Demidh finding room on the right to whip in a left footed cross which John Johnston headed tamely at goalkeeper Myles Boney.
The visitors then enjoyed a good spell with Tom Broadbent having to make a vital tackle on Demidh deep in his own penalty box, the resulting corner being nodded wide by Ioan Evans.
Then on 17 minutes Harry Wakefield, looking a more potent threat than on his debut in midweek, turned smartly, his twenty two yard power packed drive being turned aside by Boney. With the hosts looking rattled, Broadbent went in late on Demidh who reacted and both players received yellow cards.
That incident pepped up the hosts who immediately fashioned their best chance so far ass Mackenzie Heaney was free in space on the right from Robert Briggs’ Crossfield pass but curled his effort beyond Pollard’s right hand upright.
Darius Osei glanced wide soon afterwards but Matlock and Demidh spurned a gilt edged opportunity on the half hour mark, a faulty Boney clearance falling straight at Demidh’s feet only for the number ten to sky his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Fortunately for Demidh and the men in yellow it wasn’t immediately crucial and after the again immaculate Ioan Evan shad done well to block a shot from Ade shokunbi, Matlock took the lead when following an excellent assist by Wakefeld, DIMAIO found the net clinically from fifteen yards, a precision ground shot giving Boney no chance.
Shields increased the pressure but Matlock might have doubled their lead Dan Bradley’s attempted curler towards the top corner was high and wide. A swift counter led to Darius Osei feeding Heaney who skied his shot high and wide. With Dimaio beginning to have an increased influence as he released John Johnston on the left whose teasing low ball was marginally off the radar of Demidh.
The table toppers showed promise with a couple of set pieces after the break while a low ball from Demidh to Wakefield was cut out by the long leg of Gary Liddle.
A fine stop from Pollard kept out a strike from Motley-Henry before Johnston was booked for fouling Liddle. The pressure now was unrelenting, Evans producing two last ditch interventions to keep the lively hosts out. Pollard also made a pair of fine saves from Briggs and then Osei.
Substitute Saul Milovanovic was added to the crime count along with Motley-Henry as Matlock were hanging on and the onslaught finally had its reward as the ball pinged across the area with ALESSANDRO sweeping home from a corner on 85 minutes and give Shields renewed hope of another three points in their surge towards the title.
It was all hands to the pump by the men in yellow to preserve their point although substitute Slew hesitated momentarily in the box a few minutes earlier as his shot was blocked, another attempt being straight at Boney.
So against the odds, a fine all round team performance earned Matlock the very least they deserved. It could have been so much better against a side who encouraged smart attacking play and undoubtedly will be champions in a few weeks time. The Gladiators remain on the cusp of the play-offs and on the evidence of Saturday, they thoroughly deserve to be in contention.
SOUTH SHIELDS: 1 Myles Boney 2 Jordan Hunter 3 Blair Adams 4 Gary Liddle 5 Tom Broadbent 6 Martin Smith 7 Mackenzie Heaney 8 Robert Briggs 9 Darius Osei 10 Ade Shokunbi (15 Lewis Alessandra 63) 11 Dylan Motley-Henry Other subs: 12 Jordy Mongoy 14 Dillon Morse 15 Michael Woods 17 Callum Dobson
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jim Pollard 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Ethan Cartwright 4 Dan Bradley (15 Saul Milovanovic 61) 5 Adam Yates 6 Ioan Evans 7 Al Byrne 8 Connor Dimaio 9 Harry Wakefield (14 Jaz Goundry 78) 10 Karl Demidh (12 Jorome Slew 73) 11 John Johnston Other subs; 16 Alex Duhameau 17 Saul Deeney
REFEREE—Glen Hart (Darlington) ATTENDANCE: 2047 BEST GLADIATOR: Ioan Evans