Battling Matlock end up with nothing at Kendal

Ben Algar
Ben Algar

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Kendal Town 2

Ashley Dunn 50

Rory Winters 54

Matlock Town 1

Ben Hunter 89

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Lee Featherstone, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Ben Algar (Ben Hunter 79), Harry Winter, Ian Holmes (TJ Nightingale 63), Lee Morris, Craig Nelthorpe. Other subs: Kris Witcombe, Scott Bibby, Nick Buxton.

Referee: M Corlett – Liverpool

Attendance: 152

Star man: Ben Algar

Ben Hunter’s cracking 20-yard volley came just a minute from time so it proved insufficient to prevent the Gladiators going down to a narrow defeat at the Cosyseal Stadium on Saturday.

Kendal had built up a two-goal advantage early in the second half when two quick strikes, one a belter and the other covered in controversy, put them in control.

For Matlock, it was an encouraging first-half display, and while not as effective after the interval, they made the long journey home reflecting they were worth a point.

Harry Winter, a short-term signing on a dual registration agreement with Blue Square North leaders Hyde, lined up in central midfield alongside Liam King following Steve Warne’s move to Belper and injuries kept out both Gareth Davies and Kris Bowler.

The Gladiators also named two wingers with Ben Algar back after injury and Craig Nelthorpe having served a suspension.

Algar operated on the right and was a constant source of irritation for home full back Danny Williams.

But it was Ian Holmes who nearly took advantage of a slip by home goalkeeper Craig Dootson in the opening two minutes. Dootson collapsed as he tried to clear but recovered just in time.

Referee Matthew Corlett would play a huge part in the game. He allowed many over-the-top challenges to go unrecognised and ultimately unpunished. Adam Yates had to use the Gladiators’ blank blood shirt again when he was floored by a stray elbow, not picked up by Mr Corlett.

Holmes was put through by Lee Morris, only to be flagged offside as the visitors looked bright going forward but Kendal came close on 12 minutes when Mark Jackson’s shot from 20 yards shaved Kennedy’s left hand post.

In the very next minute, Algar cut in from the right to fire inches past Dootson’s left hand upright with the goalkeeper scrambling desperately across his goal. Algar then found Holmes in space but the striker wanted too much time and the chance disappeared as quickly as it was created.

Then, with Morris possibly offside, Nelthorpe ended a move at the near post, seeing Dootson block his effort before Liam King’s 20-yarder was held by the keeper. Winter’s height and energy added to the mix in midfield.

Kennedy did well to turn aside a McEvatt shot from a corner played in from the right before at the other end Dootson dived full length to his left when Algar weaved in and shot hard and low.

King covered superbly in his own penalty box to snuff out Alex Taylor before a good opening half from both Algar and Matlock finished with a sweet turn in the Kendal danger area only for the promise not to be fulfilled when Dootson plucked the centre out of the afternoon sky.

Going up the slope in the second half, the hosts immediately won a free kick, powered yards over the bar by McEvatt.

This preceded four minutes which determined the destiny of the points. On 49 minutes, Nelthorpe met Algar’s pass to roll his shot against the inside of the post and then watch agonisingly as the ball rebounded into Dootson’s grasp.

The pain would increase within 30 seconds as Kendal broke and Ashley Dunn pounced on a loose ball 20 yards out to crack a fierce low drive beyond Kennedy’s dive.

Winter was booked for a foul on Ciaran Donnelly and Kendal soon doubled the lead to leave Matlock fuming.

Nelthorpe was being lectured by Mr Corlett who had stopped play for a free kick, but while all this was happening home captain Mark Joseph rolled the ball to Rory Winters who shot low into the net.

It proved a match defining error from the official.

Micky Harcourt was sent sprawling when Wisdom tripped him from behind. An obvious booking, or so it seemed, but Wisdom avoided the yellow card.

Lukic was not as lucky when he held back Taylor. Matlock were also pulled back when they tried to take a free kick quickly, such was the inconsistency of the man in black.

TJ Nightingale came on for Holmes and forced Dootson to save his low shot, which needed a touch more power. Then Morris pulled a shot wide when well-placed. Matlock were fighting hard, they were not as effective as earlier but the spirit was there and they deserved their goal.

Cramp had forced Algar off with 11 minutes left and his replacement Hunter volleyed superbly past Dootson from 20 yards.

It came a little too late though and it certainly deserved to count for more than a consolation.

So it’s just one win in nine league outings for the Gladiators, who will now be watching over their shoulders in case the relegation-haunted clubs mount a recovery.

The performance at Kendal suggests that they should have enough in their locker to avoid any relegation scares.

The sooner they can string a win or three together though, the better.