Gladiators improve but fail to take their chances in goalless stalemate
Matlock, with the worst defensive record in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, and Hyde, one of the lowest scorers, battled out a scoreless draw at the Proctor Cars Stadium in front of an encouraging crowd of 448.
The Gladiators were the more dangerous side and will possibly reflect on two points dropped as they remained in the bottom three.
They largely dominated the opening half, hitting the bar and having three other reasonable chances to break the deadlock.
Before the game there was a tribute to former defender Alan Lukasik, who made 509 Matlock appearances, after his recent death.
Matlock, unusually attacking the cricket end in the opening half, pushed Hyde back almost immediately.
But it was ten minutes before they created a chance when Craig King, on his home debut, fired against keeper Peter Crook after Marcus Marshall fed him on the left.
Matlock’s best chance came two minutes later as Marshall sprinted down the right on to a long ball from Taron Hare and crossed low for Craig Westcarr, who slammed his ten-yard shot against the bar.
Crook held a Westcarr free kick at the second attempt before Hare’s long throw was flicked on for King to head at the keeper as the Gladiators continued to dominate.
Nathan Whitehead was busy in Matlock’s engine room, looking much fitter than during a largely unsuccessful spell with the Gladiators last season, and his 34th minute strike from the edge of the box was charged down by the massed ranks of the Hyde defence.
Crook was equal to another Westcarr free kick in the opening minute of the second half.
Hyde hit back and Luke Porritt drove over the bar from the edge of the box.
Hyde’s Kyle Brownhill and Matlock’s King were booked in quick succession for late challenges, King’s resulting in Ross Durrant gathering Tom Pratt’s shot after his initial strike had been blocked.
Marshall and Westcarr combined well down the right on 58 minutes, and it needed a brave dive at Marshall’s feet from Crook to prevent the Matlock player from tucking home Westcarr’s low cross.
A tame Westcarr finish from King’s assist gave Crook an easy save as Matlock’s attackslost their earlier intensity.
Hyde, though, had no penetration going forward.
Their best hope of a goal came from a set piece, but Matlock defended those with an authority not evident in previous matches.
John McCombe’s stoppage time header dropped wide from a free kick after Matlock’s late opportunity to gain the extra two points had arrived a minute earlier, Jackson firing at Crook after a bout of head tennis on the edge of the box.
The Gladiators overcame their recent nemesis of conceding around the 38th minute in a much improved defensive display.
Club captain Adam Yates got through the game despite receiving a bloody nose when defending a 74th minute centre.