Matlock Town Eagles FC 2
Matlock Town Blues 2
EAGLES hit top gear against their high-flying neighbours in the Under 18s League One, earning a point in a fiercely-contested local derby.
The unbeaten Blues ended up snatching a last-gasp point in the second minute of the eight that were added on at the climax of the game.
Understandably wobbly in the first moments, due to an unfamiliar pattern of play, Eagles closed down their opponents clinically with Jack Johnson sweeping up superbly at right back while Jacob Gunton cleared off the line in the 14th minute.
At the other end, chances were few, but James Reeves used his speed and strength to great effect, only having the ball cruelly whipped away.
These moments aside, play in the first period became marooned in midfield with Blues, although spraying the ball around majestically, surprised by the quality of the ‘home’ side’s defending.
It was after the break that the fireworks really sparked.
Less than four minutes had elapsed before Charlie Britner cleverly broke up a Blues’ attack, and combative work from Jack Wilson and Thomas Evans forced a free-kick from just outside the penalty box.
Johnson’s cross was inch-perfect for Ben Harrison, whose rocket-like header gave the keeper no chance.
Stung into action, the ‘visitors’ countered, virtually camping inside Eagles’ half but it took a series of ricochets before an unstopppable drive forced the equaliser.
Refusing to wilt, the hosts regrouped quickly and regained the lead when yet another free-kick was well-flighted by Johnson and Jake Hatcliffe’s quick thinking created joyous touchline scenes when the ball hit the back of the net.
It could have been even better.
After Sam Boam had made a crucial interception, Evans fed a through ball to Gunton whose delicate slice was pushesd away by the keeper, while Scott Lester was just beaten to the ball as he prepared to shoot.
As the seconds ticked down though, the Blues set up wave after wave of carefully orchestrated attacks and even though the covering by Stephen Moore and Matt Marshall was decisive, dominant keeper Harry Westnedge could do nothing when a deflection wrong-footed him for a second equaliser.
It was, arguably, a fair outcome.
An excellent result for Eagles, though, who ensured that bragging rights are shared, by taking the first points of the season off their championship-chasing rivals.