Eagles leave it late to level

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Alfreton Town JFC 3

Matlock Town Eagles FC 3

eagles produced a Lazarus-like comeback in the final six minutes of this dramatic Under 18s League One encounter.

Overcoming a 3-1 deficit, they equalised in the third minute of stoppage time, preserving their unbeaten run.

A competitive opening had hardly sprung into life before Matlock soared into an early lead. Scott Lester’s pinpoint corner was met with a feisty shot from Jacob Gunton and, when the keeper could only parry, Jake Hatcliffe was on hand to apply the finish.

Tails up, the visitors went for the jugular and should have increased their advantage. Matt Marshall’s flying header from Ben Harrison’s free kick flew narrowly wide, while Harrison could also feel aggrieved when, following one of the best moves of the half, started by the hard-working Thomas Evans, his piledriver sailed over the crossbar.

At the other end, Harry Westnedge, virtually untroubled for the first 30 minutes, was almost deceived by an awkward bounce but more than redeemed himself, pushing the ball away for a corner. A combination of Charlie Britner and Sam Boam fended off further danger, while a combination of Marshall and Evans almost cut through the home rearguard again.

When the second goal refused to arrive, it clearly gave hope to the hosts, who started the second period in devastating fashion, as they somehow managed to score three times in six minutes.

The first solo effort was the pick of the bunch, but the second came as a result of a free-kick and when the ball was kicked out of Westnedge’s hands and funnelled into the net, even Alfreton seemed shocked when the goal stood.

Suddenly all at sea, Eagles appeared to be heading for defeat until an inspired substitution seemed to swing the game.

Regular defender Stephen Moore was pushed forward and caused havoc in the home defence as Matlock built up the pressure in the sunshine.

Alfreton’s keeper had already performed heroics before a perfectly-flighted corner by Jack Crossley was met by Moore, whose joy was unconfined.

Seconds later, Jack Johnson’s majestic indirect free-kick found the back of the net following a last minute touch, only for the referee to rule it out.

With less than a minute left, that could have been it for the Eagles but another Johnson special was nodded sweetly into the far corner of the net by Gunton, cueing great delight for the Eagles.

The turnaround could not have been more dramatic but a point is more than welcome as the Eagles head towards the season’s finishing line.