Matlock Town beaten by Whitby Town after controversial penalty decisions

Matlock Town goalscorer Joel Purkiss
Matlock Town goalscorer Joel Purkiss

Matlock maintained their recent pattern of losing to bottom four teams as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Whitby Town.

The result hinged on two penalty incidents, one incorrectly given and one incorrectly not awarded, with Whitby gaining the benefit on both occasions.

Controversial moment number one came three minutes before the interval with the Seasiders holding a one goal advantage.

Harry Coates hauled down striker Mike Roberts in full flow and was rightly brandished with a red card, but the offence, as Whitby supporters were quick to acknowledge, was a yard outside the penalty box.

But referee Matt McGrath pointed to the spot and Roberts dusted himself down to calmly shoot home the spot kick and put Whitby into a commanding position.

Matlock made a proper fight of it in the second half and in the end were unfortunate not to return home with at least a point.

Substitute Joel Purkiss reduced the deficit with 18 minutes left, then missed another great chance before in stoppage time, he was involved in the second controversial incident.

Giant central defender Richard Pell held and pushed him as a cross was played into the danger area, and a penalty seemed to be the only decision that McGrath could give.

He remained totally oblivious to what had occurred, in spite of fierce protests from players, management and supporters, and Whitby held grimly on for their win.

Lewis King returned in goal following an injury George Willis had picked up during the week and there were also recalls for Nicky Travis and Niall McManus with Laurie Wilson and Danny Holland on the bench.

Both teams began brightly, Whitby obviously with a point to prove after being beaten 4-1 at basement club Ramsbottom four days earlier.

McManus was at the heart of Matlock’s good early attacks, his industry forcing an early corner as a defender denied both Sam Smith and Ted Cribley who looked to finish offthe move.

But the Gladiators looked off the pace defensively, the usually reliable Micky Harcourt twice being caught out by Ryan Brobble down the left and Coates, often looking out of position which would be a prelude to his later dismissal.

Brobble was booked for simulation in only four minutes as King came out but the winger was soon creating problems and forced King into a fine save with his knees before skipping past Coates and firing across goal.

But Matlock might have scored first in the 14th minute as McManus fired straight at goalkeeper Shane Bland from twelve yards before home skipper Mark Robinson’s perfectly timed challenge stopped McManus from again testing the Whitby custodian.

Another chance came to McManus on 20 minutes, Bland standing his ground to force the Londoner to fire across goal and beyond the far upright from a tight angle.

Next it was McManus the creator, releasing Smith who delayed his goalbound shot too long, Pell stretching out to deflect the ball over the bar for a fruitless corner.

Matthew Waters volleyed over at the near post following a break down the right as Whitby responded and Adam Gell’s effort produced another flag kick, soon being followed on 34 minutes by Waters threading home a low shot following a smart back heel from Kieran Weledji, King getting a hand to the ball but failing to keep it out.

Smith and Cribley had shots charged down before that pivotal 42nd minute incident which contributed immensely to the destination of the points.

Holland replaced Craig Nelthorpe at the interval and from the Matlock viewpoint it was a shame McManus had to fill in at right-back following the Coates dismissal. He had looked Matlock’s most potent attacker.

The Gladiators controlled the second half as nerves affected Whitby with most of the play in the home half.

Holland was tremendously unfortunate not to find the net on 58 minutes, his excellent header bringing a top class tip over the bar from Bland. Two corners quickly followed, the second seeing an Adam Yates shot booted off the line by Robinson.

Matlock kept knocking on the door and it opened with a route one move as Purkiss found space beyond the home defence to calmly lift a precision finish over Bland and give his side real hope.

Purkiss shot tamely at Bland from an easier looking chance shortly afterwards before the stoppage time controversy which saw Matlock return from the Yorkshire coast empty handed.

WHITBY TOWN: Shane Bland, Josh Nearney, Mark Robinson, Richard Pell, Kieran Weledji, David McTiernan, Lee Mason, Adam Gell, Mike Roberts (Liam Shepherd 82) 10 Matthew Waters (Connor Gardner 82), Ryan Brobble. Subs not used: Ross Gardner, Callum Martin, Matthew Wyke.

MATLOCK TOWN: Lewis King, Micky Harcourt, Craig Nelthorpe (Danny Holland 46), Nicky Travis, Adam Yates, Harry Coates, Ted Cribley, Liam Needham, Sam Smith (Joel Purkiss 62), Niall McManus, Ben Algar. Subs not used: Scott Maxfield, Jack Siddall, Laurie Wilson.

REFEREE: M. McGrath (Cottingham, East Yorkshire)

ATTENDANCE: 276.

BEST GLADIATOR: Nicky Travis.