Another dramatic last-gasp winner keeps Gladiators in hunt for play-offs

Marcus Dinanga struck Matlock Town's late winner.
Marcus Dinanga struck Matlock Town's late winner.

Never-say-die Matlock grabbed a late winner for the second successive week to keep alive their Evostick Premier Division play-off hopes.

Twice behind at Rushall Olympic, Matlock refused to give up and the celebrations both on and off the field when Marcus Dinanga netted a 90th minute winner, his 25th goal of the season, said it all.

The visitors came through a tough test on a difficult surface, which had been covered with snow at breakfast and passed two inspections.

Matlock, who also hit the woodwork twice, saw Michael Williams replace the suspended Cleveland Taylor, the only change from the line-up that beat Alfreton in midweek.

The Gladiators came close to making a dream start when a third-minute corner was inadvertently headed towards his own goal by Aaron Forde, forcing keeper Jose Veiga to claw the ball away desperately with some visiting fans claiming it had crossed the line.

Danico Johnson’s shot from distance was wide before Rushall escaped again in the 12th minute when Dinanga’s low shot was pushed aside by the keeper.

Matlock played some neat football on a sticky surface, but the extra quality was missing in the final third.

After their difficult start, the home side began to pose a threat.

Sam Whittall rose above the Town defence to head over from a 30th minute corner and Liam Marsden made a goal-saving block to keep out a Luke Bottomer effort, before Rushall took a 37th-minute lead.

Adam Yates mistimed his challenge on Danico Johnson and captain Aaron Forde sent Phil Barnes the wrong way from the penalty spot.

A minute before half-time Matlock levelled as Yates poked home from six yards after a scramble in the penalty area at a corner.

Rushall made the better start to the second period with both George Bowerman and Forde firing wide.

At the other end, Ted Cribley’s drive was nodded away by Joe Hull and Veiga cleared up.

Straight from Veiga’s clearance, the hosts regained the lead on 66 minutes.

Michael Partoditeromo found Bottomer on the right and he advanced before striking a wonderful diagonal shot into the far corner.

Matlock’s response was again impressive, although there was a touch of good fortune about their second equaliser four minutes later.

Cribley cut in from the left and fired goalwards. His shot struck a defender and looped over a stranded Veiga.

Dinanga’s fierce low drive cannoned back off the post with the keeper beaten as Matlock looked for a winner.

Paul Ennis made a chance for himself as he beat Joe Hull, but the ball would not drop kindly and his shot from the edge of the area cleared the bar.

Matlock finished the stronger as their fitness again came to the fore a week after their 93rd minute winner against Halesowen.

An Ennis free kick was deflected on to a post before Dinanga was foiled by an excellent Veiga block.

But the Matlock striker had the last laugh. In the final minute Dinanga ran clear and kept his composure, slotting the ball beyond the advancing Veiga and low into the corner.

There was no way back for Rushall as Matlock gained what could be a crucial three points to remain 10th.

MATLOCK TOWN: Phil Barnes, Liam Marsden, Jake Green, Andy Wright (Joe Doyle-Charles 74) Adam Yates, Dwayne Wiley, Niall McManus (Curtis Morrison 85), Michael Williams, Paul Ennis (Nico Degirolamo 90), Marcus Dinanga, Ted Cribley. Subs not used: Marc Newsham, Jamie Yates.