Ruthless streak lacking as Matlock earn a draw

Liam King
Liam King
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chasetown 1

Gary Birch 61

Matlock Town 1

Liam Wilkin 20

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt (Kris Witcombe 10), Lee Featherstone (Nathan Joynes 92) Liam King, Adam Yates, Laurence Gaughan, Liam Wilkin, Paul Riley, Ian Holmes (Chris Bettney 38), Lewis McMahon, Ben Algar.

Referee: A Fox – Coventry

Attendance: 227

Star man: Liam King

Matlock are now 14 league games without an away victory as hosts Chasetown cancelled out their half-time deficit to earn a precious point.

Liam Wilkin’s 20th minute header deservedly put the Gladiators in front as their positive opening was rewarded, but Matlock, to quote manager Mark Atkins, became “sloppy” afterwards, and could not build on their advantage.

Injuries will be a worry for Atkins ahead of Saturday’s home meeting with leaders Chester. James Lukic aggravated his back injury in the weekend’s win against Burscough and was ruled out, but during Tuesday night’s clash, Micky Harcourt, with a suspected broken bone in his foot, Ian Holmes with a side injury and Lee Featherstone, who strained a groin, all retired before the end.

Laurence Gaughan came in for Lukic, while Paul Riley was given a start as Kris Bowler was absent due to work commitments. Wilkin, as on Saturday, was Chris Bettney’s replacement, but this time from the start.

Chasetown gave a debut to former Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Stoke City and Derby County midfielder Lee Hendrie. Due to the industry of Liam King and Riley, he failed to stand out.

The hosts, on the fringes of the relegation zone, lacked confidence and Matlock would have been left hoping to have the chance to play against a toothless attack every day of the week!

After a featureless start, full back Jack Farmer was up to support the attack but shoot desperately off target from long range in the seventh minute. Three minutes afterwards, Harcourt was helped off with Kris Witcombe ready and waiting.

Jon Kennedy pushed away a low shot from Courtney Pitt, but Matlock looked comfortable.

A clever Wilkin back heel was booted off the line at the expense of a corner and in that move’s follow up, Matlock went in front. Ben Algar’s excellent vision saw his intricate chip forward met by Wilkin’s looping header which had the former Winterton Rangers striker celebrating his first competitive Matlock goal.

Holmes might have doubled the lead three minutes afterwards, but his control let him down and Chasetown hacked the ball clear.

Matlock were starting to become careless, and they escaped on 28 minutes when, asleep at a free-kick, the ball was sprayed out to full back Martin Branch to cross instinctively and burly centre forward Birch nodded over.

Hendrie was fortunate to escape with just a talking-to for a challenge on Holmes, the Gladiator then failing to make the most of a half-chance.

Holmes later limped off as Matlock reached the interval ahead.

A quiet opening to the second half saw the hard working Riley lift his shot too high before, in a brief flurry of pressure, Chasetown equalised. Pitt shot against the post from 20 yards, Kennedy kept out Birch’s follow-up but could do nothing as Birch slammed home.

Matlock then had to face two quick corners before Dean Perrow’s low cross from the left beat everybody. In a counterattack, Matlock created a great chance as Lewis McMahon set up Chris Bettney on the left, only for the latter’s good cross to be wasted with no-one up in support.

Joynes came on for groin strain victim Featherstone in stoppage time but had little chance to shine as Matlock once again had wasted an excellent opportunity to end their winless sequence on their travels.

Quite simply, they lacked the ruthlessness to punish a Chasetown side lacking in confidence, when they were in the ascendancy. The sharing of the points was just about right.