Wingerworth JSA 1
Matlock Town Eagles 3
AN UNSAVOURY final minute which saw the dismissal of three players following an off-the-ball altercation should in no way disguise the fact that both teams played their part in a thoroughly entertaining contest, which was always compelling, belying the fact that neither team had competed for over three weeks.
Early exchanges suggested that Wingerworth would take the game to their visitors but, with Sam Boam in particularly fine form at right back and Stephen Moore a tower of strength in central defence, Eagles gradually imposed themselves as Ben Harrison and Thomas Evans dominated the midfield battle.
Both players shot narrowly over the bar after foraging runs, each set up by the effervescent Jake Hatcliffe before a fine flick-on from Jack Wilson saw Jacob Gunton’s determined run into the penalty box pulled back to set up a far-post opportunity for Scott Lester, which was accepted with some aplomb to give Matlock a deserved advantage as half-time approached.
As expected, the hosts rampaged forward after the turnaround and Matt Marshall’s superb off-the-line interception was pivotal, as was a clever flick-on from Charlie Britner to, ultimately, start the move which led to Eagles’ second and, on reflection, decisive strike.
Wilson’s excellent cross was flicked on by Evans to Gunton, whose unstoppable finish was struck on the volley. The home team could, and perhaps should, have reduced the arrears following a flowing move, but keeper Harry Westnedge, largely unemployed during the first hour, excelled by pushing the ball away, while Boam’s vision cleared any potential follow-up.
At the other end, Wilson’s run into the box was thwarted by a stray foot, and Gunton dispatched the resultant penalty clinically.
It says much for JSA’s spirit that they now started to play their best football of the game and probably deserved the consolation of a goal five minutes from the final whistle, although how Eagles failed to score a fourth following a scintillating run and cross from Jack Crossley will probably remain a mystery.
With the outcome decided, the flaring of tempers which saw two Wingerworth players and one of the visitors dismissed should not detract from an impressive team performance by Eagles, whose last defeat, in mid-September, now seems a dim and distant memory.
A case, then, of the bad and the ugly but really, far more of the good!