Evo-Stik Premier Division
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Colwyn Bay 0
Matlock Town 1
James Lukic 89
Matlock Town: Nick Buxton, Ben Turner, Ben Algar, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Gareth Davies, Steve Warne, Anthony Wilson (Dene Cropper 68), Ross Hannah, Nathan Joynes (James Knowles 90). Other subs: Lee Morris, Kris Witcombe
Referee: I Hussin – Liverpool
Captain fantastic James Lukic scored with just over a minute plus stoppage time left to make Matlock Town’s long midweek trip a productive one and cement their play-off hopes.
Matlock started out two places below the second-placed Welsh side, trailing them by four points but with two games in hand, but a thoroughly disciplined performance made their position a great deal healthier by the end.
In contrast, the hosts lost their discipline in a crazy two-minute spell just after the hour, which saw defender Joe McMahon sent off for punching Anthony Wilson, with Danny Grannon, fouled by Wilson in the build-up, lucky to stay on for also dishing out his own form of retribution. Wilson was booked and soon replaced as Bay manager Dave Challinor scraped his studs down the back of Wilson’s legs in a vain attempt to get Wilson to seek revenge.
Bay are a physical side but all too often let themselves down by rolling about dramatically to try and get referee Ian Hussin to flash a card. And goalkeeper Chris Sanna can take some blame for igniting the violence when Ross Hannah merely brushed against him as he looked to charge down the custodian’s clearance. The pointing and finger wagging in Hannah’s direction was totally unnecessary. But Matlock were in no mood to let these histrionics deter them. There was a determination to succeed.
Defensively, Matlock were faultless. They defended from the front and a game of few clear-cut chances suited them. Bay might feel aggrieved at losing to such a late strike, but Matlock’s earlier industry earned its reward.
Ben Turner and Wilson were recalled as Kris Witcombe and James Knowles stood down. Nathan Joynes kept his place but adopted a role on the left in what looked an attacking formation.
Defences remained on top although Hannah pulled an effort wide from long range in the sixth minute and Lukic failed to connect significantly with a header shortly afterwards. The Seagulls broke quickly to Jon Newby on the left but Nick Buxton made his one noteworthy stop by efficiently beating away the shot.
Joynes’s ability to hang on to the ball was proving productive but he would have been kicking himself at not doing better on the half hour when he crossed poorly and Michael Lea cleared. But within two minutes the Bay were grateful that Lea managed to nod clear a Joynes header from a Gareth Davies cross which would have crept in at the back post.
Matlock thought they had gone in front with seconds of the opening half remaining as Hannah crossed from the right and King fired past Sanna, only for his celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.
An even and largely uneventful start to the second half was livened up by McMahon’s red card. This seemed to strengthen the Bay’s resolve.
Rob Hopley headed too high and Grannon nodded straight at Buxton but that was about as close as Colwyn came.
Like terriers, Matlock would not let Bay settle and Hannah found room on the right to fire low across the penalty box and Lukic’s shot bobbled past Sanna and in.
Cue mad celebrations as outfield Gladiators piled on their skipper. Matlock comfortably saw out the four minutes of added time to record a fifth win on the trot in league and cup, a run which has seen them score 16 times and concede just the once.
Having recorded a league double over one of their play-off rivals, it was a happy band of Gladiators on the trip back to Derbyshire.