by Ian Richardson
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Evo-Stik League Premier Division
Stocksbridge Park Steels 1
Brett Lovell 24
Matlock Town 1
Tyeisse Nightingale 89
Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Kris Bowler, Lee Featherstone (Lee Whittington 88), Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Chris Bettney, Steve Warne (Ian Holmes 56), Danny Davidson (Nathan Joynes 74), Tyeisse Nightingale, Gareth Davies.
Sub not used: Nick Buxton
Referee: B Lamb (Eccles)
Star man: Adam Yates
Tyeisse Nightingale scored an 89th minute equaliser and was then sent off in a brawl in stoppage time.
It was an ugly end to a game which was always simmering and while Nightingale could have no complaints about his red card, it is difficult not to sympathise with him for retaliating after he was kicked in the head by an opponent who got away scot free.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins was also sent to the stands, a surprising decision as he played no part in the melee which involved many players from both sides and the two dugouts.
Referee Barry Lamb then blew for full time when he restarted the game after administering his punishment to Nightingale and Atkins, plus showing goalkeeper Ben Scott, who had run 30 yards to get involved, a yellow card.
Matlock just about deserved their point. A much-improved second half showing followed a dire opening period when the Gladiators often struggled to string two passes together.
Left-footed Lee Featherstone had to play at right back with Kris Witcombe and Micky Harcourt injured. Kris Bowler was the other full back while Gareth Davies and Liam King returned to the midfield.
In a poor start, neither goalkeeper was seriously troubled but from the first chance of the game in the 13th minute, Richard Stirrup fired against the crossbar after a corner had only been partially cleared.
This temporarily woke Town up and a tricky run from Chris Bettney ended with Chris Glarvey slicing his shot behind for an unproductive corner.
Then Matlock conceded a really soft goal in the 24th minute to make life difficult for themselves. After Gareth Davies fouled Matt Outram, the Steels winger floated in a free kick which the completely unattended giant centre half Brett Lovell met with a cushioned header back across Jon Kennedy and just inside the post.
King’s 25-yarder was straight at Scott as Matlock sought a reply, but passes kept going astray in what was a disjointed performance from the Gladiators.
Crosses from Featherstone and Bowler narrowly eluded Nightingale and Davidson respectively, but at the other end Stirrup had struck the woodwork for a second time when his 39th minute cross shot from the right clipped the far post.
The interval arrived at an apt time for Matlock and after a half time talking to, they emerged for the second half looking like a far more business like unit. Inside 90 seconds, Davidson glanced a Steve Warne cross wide before Bettney warmed Scott’s fingers with a well-struck shot from distance. Then a fine ball from Davies was only a matter of inches out of Davidson’s radar.
Steels weathered the storm and had a short period in the ascendancy when Kennedy turned away a free kick from Mark Ward, who headed over before Kennedy scooped away a Jack Muldoon attempt.
But Stocksbridge were forced deeper into their own territory as Matlock picked up the pace once more. Scott spilled Bowler’s cross before substitute Nathan Joynes could only head softly towards Scott from Bettney’s centre.
Adam Yates was a tower of strength in defence and instigated many attacking moves with a will to carry the ball out of defence, doing his best not to be on the losing side.
Salvation came from a Davies free kick just inside the Steels’ half. James Lukic towered above the Steels defence to nod down beautifully and Nightingale was on it in a flash to volley home.
On the Matlock performance, manager Atkins: “We were poor in the first half and better in the second but we should really be beating sides like that.”
As it was draw specialists Matlock had to settle for a point yet again.
This was their tenth draw in 23 league games played. They did not deserve to lose, but equally a win would have flattered them.
n For the latest news on Matlock Town, make sure you buy this week’s Matlock Mercury.