A new year can bring fresh hope and new beginnings, but for Matlock Town 2015 began with more of the same as they fell to a sixth defeat in seven league matches.
A workmanlike Grantham scored a goal in each half to win three comfortable points which left home joint boss Dave Rushbury complaining that his side ‘had been bullied out of it again.’
Playing pretty football as they did in the opening half is okay as long as there is some end product. But for Matlock it was the same old story of chances not being finished off, while at the other end sloppy defending let the Gingerbreads in for both of their goals.
Matlock badly lack physicality in key areas, they lack experience and knowhow and they need the ability to do the ugly things right.
They also need goals - they had first half chances on Saturday but did not take them and once Grantham had doubled their lead within 90 seconds of the re-start, there was no way back.
The visitors were almost always first to the ball and apart from a Liam Needham strike which flew over the bar and a James Ashmore free-kick which curled wide of goalkeeper Dan Haystead’s right hand post, Matlock never threatened a recovery.
Grantham began on he offensive and there were early warnings for Matlock on two and 11 minutes when shots from Danny Meadows and Lee Miveld flashed narrowly wide.
But then the Gladiators should have gone ahead on 13 minutes when the ball dropped invitingly for Danny Holland eight yards out but he could only poke his shot from a clear opening straight at Haystead.
It proved to be a costly miss as straightaway Grantham nudged in front. A cross from the right by Paul Grimes was headed out by Micky Harcourt, but winger Michael Emmett swung the ball back towards the back post and Meadows sneaked in unchallenged to glance home from close range.
Again, the Gladiators had been punished for a lack of concentration.
At least there was some spirit in the Matlock response with Ashmore firing fiercely at Haystead and Holland’s header being claimed by the Gingerbreads’ custodian.
Corey Gregory, operating in an attacking central midfield role just behind strikers Holland and Charlie Dawes, saw his flicked header from a corner drop wide before another lapse in concentration nearly caught out Matlock again.
Ellis Humble failed to deal with Haystead’s long punt forward and Grimes pounced only to see Jon Kennedy well-placed to save his goalbound strike.
The offside flag then denied Matlock an equaliser as Dawes was penalised as he stroked home a cross from the left and the half ended with Emmett clipping the outside of the post.
Matlock faced an uphill task as it was but the first-half had provided some encouragement for the home crowd.
That quickly evaporated when from a free kick, Tom Batchelor rode two ineffective challenges to force in a scrappy second goal. The goal came because Batchelor seemingly wanted it more and that uphill struggle suddenly became a mountain to climb for Matlock.
Jason Stokes was brought on in a double substitution and although he was lively, he needed more support.
The better chances fell to the visitors as Rhys Lewis forced a fine save from Kennedy while Meadows and Grimes were off target from presentable opportunities.
The final whistle brought a chorus of boos from one part of the stadium as Matlock are already four points adrift of safety, and they could be left sinking without a paddle if the required changes don’t come now.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Phil Roe (16 Lawrence Gorman 74) 4 James Ashmore 5 Ellis Humble (15 Oscar Radford 59) 6 Adam Yates 7 Charlie Dawes (17 Jason Stokes 59), 8 Liam Needham 9 Danny Holland 10 Corey Gregory 11 Joe Leesley
Other subs: 12 Andre Johnson 14 Josh Meade
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Dan Haystead 2 Sam Purcicoe 3 Liam Kay 4 Tom Batchelor 5 Scott Hellewell 6 Lee Miveld 7 Danny Meadows 8 Rhys Lewis 9 Paul Grimes 10 Ben Saunders (12 Daniel Cockerline 80) 11 Michael Emmett (16 Will Rawdon 89) Other subs: 14 Connor Johnson, 15 Tom Divver 17 Dennis Rhule
REFEREE: Ben Cooke (Atherstone) ATTENDANCE: 306 BEST GLADIATOR: Micky Harcourt