Matlock unbeaten run is ended by Chasetown loss

Matlock Town captain James Lukic wins a header in the 1-1 draw with Hednesford Town.
Matlock Town captain James Lukic wins a header in the 1-1 draw with Hednesford Town.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Chasetown 2

Gary Birch 16

Ramone Stephens 32

Matlock Town 1

Ross Hannah 20

Chasetown halted Matlock’s winning sequence at the fifth time of asking in a close, hard-fought battle in Staffordshire on Tuesday night.

Matlock remained unchanged from the team that had beaten Worksop at the weekend as they faced a Scholars outfit full of beans after they had shocked Grimsby Town by ousting them from the FA Trophy on the same day.

A point could have taken Matlock up to second but as Town boss Mark Atkins said afterwards, his side was not quite on their game.

The main difference between the sides was Ramone Stephens, operating mainly down the right but at other times joining in impressively with the action more centrally. He had impressed in Chasetown’s controversial 4-3 win at the Reynolds Stadium in September and without doubt he was on top of his game again.

He made one and scored one and Matlock at times could not cope with his pace and directness.

There was a hint of a chance for Matlock on ten minutes when a corner was dropped into the danger area and a slightly off-balance James Lukic could get neither pace nor direction on his sliced finish.

Matlock were not finding a deal of fluency as the ball was often like a hot potato with the long pass employed a little too much for their own good or Atkins’s liking. The Gladiators also looked more suspect at the back than they had done for a number of games.

Chasetown went in front when Stephens surged around Lee Featherstone to cross low for Gary Birch, who turned neatly to fire crisply past Adam Sollitt after 16 minutes.

But that lead lasted a little over three minutes as Hannah grabbed his 31st goal of the season. Ben Turner found him on the right and he cut in to blast a scorcher from 20 yards which Ryan Price could only palm into the net.

Hannah tried a repeat of his goal, which this time turned into a cross that Morris diving full length, and only an inch or two away from connecting with at the back post.

Sollitt did well to push a long-range strike from Ben Jevons over the bar before Richard Davies pulled his effort comfortably wide.

But Stephens ensured the points would remain close to the Black Country when on 32 minutes, and with Matlock backing off, he burst forward in the inside right channel and produced a cracker of a shot from 25 yards that found the top corner.

Atkins decided on two early second half changes as Ben Algar and Nathan Joynes replaced Bowler and Morris. There was a sniff of more glory for Hannah who latched on to Featherstone’s header forward, but he found himself with an acute angle as his first-time lob was caught by the backpedalling Price.

Dene Cropper replaced Turner as Matlock went for broke with three up front plus Algar in an attacking role. Cropper was booked within two minutes of his introduction for crashing in late on Turner but within two further minutes, he had met a great cross from Featherstone with an equally fine header which sped narrowly over the bar.

King held back Stephens to join Cropper on a yellow card while earlier Chasetown’s Richard Davies suffered the same punishment for fouling namesake Gareth.

But Matlock could not rescue a point, in spite of another sliced Lukic finish which was too high and Hannah doing his utmost to flick a header from an Algar cross into the corner of the net.

Matlock Town: Adam Sollitt, Ben Turner (Dene Cropper 73), Lee Featherstone, Gareth Davies, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Liam King, Steve Warne, Lee Morris (Nathan Joynes 50), Ross Hannah, Kris Bowler (Ben Algar 50) Other subs: James Knowles, Nick Buxton

Referee: A J Horton (Wolverhampton)

Attendance: 342

Star Man: Ross Hannah