Late penalty wins battle of play-off challengers

John McAliskey

John McAliskey

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by Ian Richardson

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Matlock Town 0

Bradford Park Avenue 1

Aiden Savory 81

Matlock Town: Adam Sollitt, Adam Yates, Lee Featherstone, Gareth Davies, Paul Sykes, James Lukic, James Knowles, Steve Warne, Nathan Joynes (John McAliskey 79), Lee Morris (Ross Hannah 63), Ryan Mallon. Other subs: Kris Witcombe, Ben Turner, Nick Buxton.

Referee: N Murphy – Mansfield.

Attendance: 395

Star Man: James Lukic.

Saturday’s clash of the play-off chasers went Bradford’s way thanks to Aiden Savory’s 81st minute penalty.

Paul Sykes caught Matty James and while the decision was a correct one, it grieved Matlock because, eight minutes beforehand, the Gladiators had the most clearcut of penalties denied them when James Knowles was tripped by James Riley.

The defeat hurt because it was undeserved. Equally though, Matlock did not do enough to earn a win in a disappointing match of precious few chances which appeared to have a goalless draw written all over it.

In terms of plus points, the defending was a good deal better, with skipper James Lukic back to his best. But defeat was unthinkable for either side, and Matlock really needed the win.

All is not lost, but if they do make the play-offs, they will have done it the hard way.

The sunshine brought in a respectable 395 spectators, but there was little to thrill them. There was plenty of honest endeavour, nobody could be faulted for a lack of effort, but both sides were guilty of misplaced passes, as the ball was given away with alarming regularity.

Bradford looked slightly the more dangerous in an even start which brought little action in the penalty boxes. Winger Ryan Mallon was again starved of service, although on 26 minutes there was a promising situation when he had room on the left before his cross was a little too high for Nathan Joynes.

Soon afterwards, Lukic headed away magnificently from a Nicky Boshell cross. Aiden Savory would most certainly have pounced had the Town skipper not intervened.

Lee Morris and Bradford’s James Knowles were both booked after a 29th-minute bust up with Boshell quickly adding to the tally after fouling Adam Yates. Knowles then produced a superbly-timed challenge on Morris to stop a Matlock attack.

Half-time arrived with a dangerous looking Avenue free kick which was wasted by full back Martin Drury who hoisted his shot high over the bar.

Two minutes after the break another Drury free kick got through as far as Sollitt, who saved comfortably.

Lukic might have capped his man-of-the-match performance with the opening goal four minutes later when the ball dropped for him to fire a low 12-yard shot which flashed past goalkeeper John Lamb’s right upright. His daughter, mascot for the day, would have enjoyed that special moment.

Sykes was booked for bringing down James before Bradford wasted a great chance when Adam Clayton found himself clear only to screw wide. Gibson volleyed behind before Ross Hannah was introduced in place of the injured Morris. Sykes and James clashed heads and Sykes reappeared sporting a bandage.

Then came the penalty incident which might have given Hannah his 46th goal of the season.

John McAliskey was sent on to add height to the Town attack but before he could get involved, Bradford were in front.

A frustrated Hannah was booked for a poor challenge before seeing a late shot charged down.