Witton Albion vs Matlock Town FC
Wincham ParkNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
WITTON ALBION 0-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Reece Kendall’s 14th minute strike was sufficient for Matlock to earn a fourth successive league victory and a third league double of the season at Wincham Park on Saturday.
Matlock had thrashed Albion 9-0 at the Proctor Cars Stadium in September but a resilient Witton, sitting second bottom in the division proved to be a far harder nut to crack this time.
The Gladiators recalled Callum Chippendale and Jamie Sharman to their starting line up with Jesurun Uchegbulam ruled out with a hamstring injury and Ross Hannah unavailable after the birth of his third child overnight.
Witton had the first sniff at goal in the opening minute as they made ground down the right through Joe Ferguson with Will Jones glancing the cross harmlessly wide.
Then until the dying embers of the half it was virtually all Matlock.
A 3rd minute Al Byrne free kick was blocked and Mark Lees following up saw his deflected well struck shot held by home goalkeeper Greg Hall. Liam King’s cross then found Hughes with Hall doing well to fingertip the burly striker’s header over the bar.
Kendall would have a better chance on 8 minutes but his mistimed header dropped disappointingly wide.
As Matlock piled on the pressure Alex Wiles drove at Hall after good approach play from Hughes, the Matlock number nine then trying his luck from twenty yards forcing Hall to dive to his left to push the ball away to safety.
Next it was King’s turn to shoot at goal, his shot taking a deflection to narrowly clear the bar but the pressure eventually paid off when Witton failed to clear a Byrne corner, Ioan Evans had a shot blocked, Hall saved from Hughes before KENDALL blasted in the loose ball despite Hall’s best efforts to keep the shot out.
The lead might have been doubled when Hughes got in the way of a goalbound shot by Wiles and shortly afterwards a miscued Lees shot caught King’s head only to drop conveniently for Hall.
Witton escaped again in the 42nd minute with Ferguson clearing Evans’ header off the line before the final seconds of the half saw Witton come forward for Rob Hopley to direct his header high and wide.
Albion sensed they had a chance of upsetting the table toppers having only a one goal deficit as it was the hosts who did most of the pressing in the second period.
They had a chance to equalise on 52 minutes but Gladiators goalkeeper Joe Young did well to save from the hosts’ top scorer Callum Saunders. Four minutes later Saunders shot too high when well placed and now Witton were asking more questions of the Gladiators rearguard.
Will Jones pulled a shot wide as the visiting fans urged their side on doing their best to inspire their favourites in repelling the Witton tide.
Kayde Coppin was brought on for a rare appearance in the 67th minute with Matlock needing to look after the ball better ion the Witton half.
It could have been game over in the 73rd minute when Ryan Qualter was on the end of a Byrne free kick only to stab wide when the goal looked to be at his mercy. Shortly afterwards Coppin nearly made the most of an error by Ferguson but drove straight at Hall.
From then on Matlock comfortably saw out the game with some sensible game management with Byrne and Coppin in particular doing well to hold on to possession near the corner flag.
So another vital three points for Matlock who possibly made their task somewhat more difficult than it should have been in the second period after dominating the opening half. Hard work and industry were again the hallmark of their display with star rating going to midfielder Alex Wiles who covered every blade of grass and typified the commitment the team are showing at present.
WITTON ALBION: 1 Greg Hall 2 Joe Ferguson 3 Isaac Baldwin 4 Josh Wardle 5 Ben Pleavin 6 Rob Hopley 7 Tom Owens (12 Jawad Jebrin 90) 8 James Lawrie 9 Will Jones 10 Callum Saunders 11 James Foley Other subs: 14 Danny McKenna 15 Josh Agbozo 17 Raajan Gill
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Joe Young 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Al Byrne 8 Alex Wiles 9 Liam Hughes 10 Callum Chippendale (12 Kayde Coppin 67) 11 Liam King (15 Luke Daly 86) Other subs: 14 Nathan Okome 16 Finlay Phillips 19 Paul Phillips
REFEREE: Niall Smith (Rugeley) ATTENDANCE: 381 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Wiles