Disappointing follow-up to Saturday’s superb display

Ian Holmes
Ian Holmes

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nantwich Town 2

Ben Mills 56

Michael Lennon 78

Matlock Town 1

Ian Holmes 90

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Kris Bowler, Oscar Radford, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Chris Bettney (T J Nightingale 64), Nathan Joynes (James Knowles 79), Ian Holmes, Gareth Davies (Ben Hunter 85), Ben Algar. Other sub: Nick Buxton

Referee: D P Meeson (Stoke-on-Trent)

Attendance: 273

Star man: James Lukic.

Leading scorer Ian Holmes’s stoppage time goal was too little, too late in a disappointing Matlock performance at the Weaver Stadium on Tuesday night.

After demolishing high flying Chorley just three days earlier in what was their best display of the season, if not for a good year, it was a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ for the Gladiators.

Mark Atkins initially named an unchanged squad, but soon had to change his plans as full back Micky Harcourt felt ill just after the team sheet had gone in. Kris Bowler was drafted into midfield with Liam King dropping into Harcourt’s slot.

Nantwich were quickest out of the blocks with Matlock’s first dangerous moment coming in the sixth minute when Michael Lennon, a target for the Gladiators during the summer, turned smartly on the left but his shot from an acute angle was held at the front post by Jon Kennedy.

Matlock were defending well but were second best in midfield.

The service to Holmes and Saturday’s hat-trick hero Nathan Joynes at this stage was poor and only got marginally better later on.

James Lukic was booked for a mistimed challenge on Ben Mills in the 17th minute. The free kick taken by Niall Maguire was fiercely struck but deflected wide.

The ball was like a hot potato for Matlock, but when they did show a touch of composure they won a corner of their own when Ben Algar found the overlapping Oscar Radford and Darren Moss stuck out a leg to halt the move.

There was a sniff of a chance on 34 minutes when Gareth Davies swung in a tempting cross. Joynes delayed his shot and Holmes was then crowded out.

Adam Yates joined his captain in referee Darren Meeson’s notebook with Mills again on the end of the foul.

Half-time came with Sean Cooke’s free-kick flicking off Lukic’s head.

The hosts instantly pushed forward as the second period got under way. Mills lifted a shot too high after a clever break down the right and when Matlock conceded another free kick 20 yards out, Fraser McClachlan’s direct shot was touched over.

But a rash moment led to the Dabbers breaking the deadlock 11 minutes in as Chris Bettney stuck up a hand to block Cooke’s firmly driven cross. Mr Meeson pointed to the spot and Mills calmly stroked home.

King and Davies swapped positions and King tried to add some much-needed urgency to the Gladiators’ attacks sense.

Always stretching, he drove wide from the edge of the box before Brain comfortably gathered his strike from a similar distance. A centre from Holmes skidded along the home penalty box but Matlock’s threat was muted.

They did come close on 72 minutes when Lukic headed powerfully from a corner which Brain pushed away.

The killer second goal came on 78 minutes. Again, it could so easily have been avoided as Davies tried to clear across the penalty box but only put his side in trouble allowing Lennon to score.

With TJ Nightingale and James Knowles on for Bettney and Joynes, Matlock showed more desire in the final third.

Lukic curled an effort beyond the far upright and Brain pulled off a great stop to keep out a Knowles free kick that had taken a deflection.

Ben Hunter, Matlock’s third and final substitute, pulled back a low ball which Holmes thumped into the roof of the net.

Hunter then did his best to retrieve an overhit Algar cross to let in Holmes again but could only slice behind.

That was the last action and confirmed Matlock’s third league defeat of the season.