Whitby Town vs Matlock Town FC
Turnbull GroundNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC2
WHITBY TOWN 2-2 MATLOCK TOWN
The horrendous near gale force swirling wind proved to be the winner as Matlock had to be content with only a point from their trip to the seaside to face eighth placed Whitby.
The Seasiders twice led only for Matlock to show true battling qualities to earn their draw.
Skipper Liam Hughes put in a captain’s performance, earning the Gladiators 21 st minute penalty converted by Al Byrne and then stabbing home in the 83rd minute to ensure a hard earned and well deserved draw.
With Ryan Qualter beginning a three match ban, Jamie Sharman was called up to slot in alongside Reece Kendall and Ioan Evans in the Gladiators defence. There was also a recall for Alex Wiles with Terry Hawkridge dropping to the bench.
Whitby, kicking towards the sea, had the elements in their favour in the first half and went ahead within seven minutes. A corner played in from the left caught out goalkeeper Joe Young and the Matlock defence with Harry Green’s flick dropping to LEWIS HAWKINS who prodded home from close range.
Hawkins fired comfortably wide from distance shortly afterwards followed by a Soni Fergus cross which was beyond the far post.
Matlock gradually repelled the Whitby threat and were back in the contest after 21 minutes. Green tripped Hughes for Matlock’s second penalty of the season which was expertly converted by ALEX BYRNE.
The extraordinary wind was causing endless headaches for both sets of players, a mix up in the Matlock defence seeing Ioan Evans come to the rescue with a timely interception at the expense of a corner.
But the first period developed largely into a midfield battle with neither side being able to find the killer punch. Matlock thought they had done so in 38 minutes when clever play from Wiles found Hughes who turned sweetly only to fire directly at Whitby goalkeeper Shane Bland.
With Matlock going to feel content to be at level pegging at the interval, they suffered a blow when the Seasiders regained the lead two minutes before the half time whistle.
Young’s goal kick was caught up in the wind and when the goalkeeper failed to hold Green’s shot, former Gladiator JACOB HAZEL fired in the loose ball.
A promising Matlock move early in the second half was halted by an offside flag against Ross Hannah before Kendall’s blast from twenty five yards was well held by Bland.
Matlock made a double change with Reece Webb Foster and Callum Chippendale replacing Wiles and Luke Daly. Mark Lees dropped deeper to allow Kendall a more prominent role going forward.
Kendall was soon in the action again volleying too high from twenty yards. A healthy travelling support encouraged their team trying to suck the ball in. They came close when Byrne’s corner curled inches beyond the back post and when a Kendall strike produced a good save by the diving Bland. When Marcus Marshall replaced Liam King, it saw Matlock with five strikers on the field.
In a rare home foray Young did well to hold on to a Hazel shot but the Gladiators were soon back on the offensive to deservedly equalise when Byrne’s corner caused havoc and HUGHES stabbed home from two yards.
Whitby’s response was positive and Young was forced into a point blank save from substitute Nathan Dyer before Young made a more routine stop from Jonathan Burn following a corner.
At the other end a terrific block challenge denied Hughes with Chippendale seeing Bland save his effort in a grandstand finish.
But both sides had to settle for a point which was just about right on the day. Matlock came off still as league leaders but South Shields’ 2-1 home win against Atherton saw them cut Matlock’s advantage to one point with a game in hand. Buxton also won 3-1 at Nantwich to move closer to the Gladiators.
So still all to play for.
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Sony Fergus 3 Jesun Sukar 4 Lewis Hawkins 5 Daniel Rowe 6 Jonathan Burn 7 Josh McDonald (14 Nathan Dyer 75) 8 Priestley Keightley 9 Jacob Hazel 10 Bradley Fewster 11 Harry Green (12 Jake Hackett 46) Other subs: 15 Lee Bullock 17 Nick Cranston
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Joe Young 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Alex Wiles (12 Reece Webb-Foster 54) 4 Reece Kendall 5 Ioan Evans 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Luke Daly (14 Callum Chippendale 54) 9 Liam Hughes 10 Ross Hannah 11 Liam King (16 Marcus Marshall 79) Other subs: 15 Terry Hawkridge 17 Riece Bertram
REFEREE: Sam Parnaby (Bishop Auckland) ATTENDANCE: 532 BEST GLADIATOR: Liam Hughes