Matlock Town’s FA Trophy dream ends with Nantwich defeat

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Matlock’s FA Trophy run ended in disappointing style as their injury hit squad fell to a goal in each half at high-flying Nantwich.

The Gladiators never got going against a well drilled Dabbers unit and did not create anywhere near enough clear cut chances to progress.

Defensively though they were better with Adam Yates and Micky Harcourt outstanding down the centre.

Their injury crisis prompted two new signings ahead of the tie with previous loan recruit Jordan Paling joining on a permanent basis and a youth loan striker Daniel Cockerline.

Matlock had the windy conditions in their favour during the opening half but they failed to seriously trouble the Nantwich defence.

There was little to note in a stale opening, save for a late tackle by Sam Hall on Niall McManus which earned the Nantwich midfielder a 15th minute caution.

Nantwich took the lead through Josh Hancock’s beautifully taken set piece on 25 minutes, which saw Town goalkeeper George Willis unable to keep the shot out despite tipping the ball on to the underside of the bar.

A timely intervention from Nicky Travis denied Nantwich the opportunity to extend their lead on the half hour.

It took a full 32 minutes for the Gladiators to test home goalkeeper Krystian Burzynski who easily stopped a Joel Purkiss shot.

With the elements against them it was Nantwich who looked the more threatening.

Yates did well to rob Liam Shotton, who had wriggled free in the visitors penalty box before full -ack Andy White ran from deep to crash in a powerful shot which flashed beyond the far post.

Clearly Matlock had it all to do and the early signs in the second half were at least more promising.

Their best chance came in the 52nd minute when Craig Nelthorpe’s fiercely struck shot was pushed out by Burzynski and McManus was unable to force in an awkwardly bouncing loose ball.

Then Purkiss had a shooting chance which he struck high over the bar after a good break by Ben Algar on the left.

But any hopes Matlock might have had of staying in the competition were virtually extinguished on the hour when Osbourne scored from the spot after Willis sent Hancock sprawling.

The Gladiators sent on Cockerline for Paling, but the theme remained of Nantwich still looking the more likely scorers.

Harcourt was the second and last booking of a generally sporting contest for a foul on Matt Bell, before Willis mopped up more effectively than previously as he was off his line at pace to beat Shotton to Hancock’s through pass.

A shot from Nelthorpe was too high but Nantwich had Matlock at arms length and they looked in no mood to let their lead slip.

A Willis clearance struck Shotton, the goalkeeper doing well to recover and keep the deficit to two.

Late on substitute Sean Cooke created two more chances for the Dabbers, firstly playing in Hancock whose effort was well saved by Willis and then feeding fellow substitute Matty Kosylo, Willis again proving to be equal to the challenge.

Matlock’s aim must be now to drastically improve their league position.

Points are now needed urgently to avoid the worry of becoming embroiled in a relegation struggle and they will be hoping that their injury woes clear up quickly.

It was probably a contributory factor to this defeat, but the travelling fans, who included former Gladiator Oscar Radford wearing a blue Matlock Town scarf, deserved a little better.

After the euphoria against Blyth in the last round, the performance was as disappointing as the weather.

MATLOCK TOWN: George Willis, Jason Paling (Daniel Cockerline 63 mins), Ben Algar, Nicky Travis, Adam Yates, Micky Harcourt, Ted Cribley, Liam Needham, Joel Purkiss, Niall McManus, Craig Nelthorpe.

Subs not used: Danny Holland, Tom Laister, Matt Wilkinson, Jack Siddall.

REFEREE: J. Hunt (Liverpool).

ATTENDANCE: 423.

BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates.