Gladiators: Matlock Town 1 Curzon Ashton 2
Matlock’s hopes of reaching a second cup final were dashed as an understrength side succumbed to an own goal and a late deflected effort.
The visiting First Division North side just about deserved their passage to the Doodson Sport League Cup Final.
Curzon Ashton always looked the more dangerous going forward and were swift in closing the Gladiators down in midfield.
Matlock badly missed Adam Yates, again struggling with his hip injury, at the back while 22-goal striker Lewis McMahon would probably have given the spark missing in attack to support Massiah McDonald.
Ben Algar slotted in at left back and there was a first start for Geoffrey Gouveia with Lee Featherstone and Lavelle White both cup tied.
Curzon’s bright opening was rewarded when on 7 minutes they made progress all too easily on the right and Matthew Purcell’s fiercely driven cross found the net off the head of Laurence Gaughan.
Gaughan tried to even up his goal tally but nodded a 12th minute James Ashmore free kick comfortably wide, but soon Curzon had two good efforts within a minute which were narrowly off target from Scott Metcalfe and Kristian Dennis who had netted a double hat-trick in his side’s 10-1 home mauling of Wakefield on Easter Monday.
The Gladiators were within a lick of paint of levelling on 22 minutes when Ashmore’s twenty yarder hit the bar with goalkeeper Josh Ollerenshaw well beaten. Then Gouveia, who mainly struggled to make an impact, put in a fine cross from the right which McDonald headed inches too high.
Gouveia made way for Matlock based James Travis in the 57th minute and with Algar pushed further forward, Matlock looked more of a threat. Algar was soon felled by Dennis with penalty appeals being rejected when Simon Woodford appeared to have handled from the free kick.
But Algar played a major part in the 64th minute equaliser, collecting Ashmore’s pass on the left before beating his marker and crossing invitingly to the far post where workhorse Joe Leesley headed in.
That should have been the signal for Matlock to take control but sadly from the home viewpoint that didn’t happen
Curzon regained some measure of composure and booked their place in the final when Micky Harcourt lost possession on the Matlock right and the ball was quickly transferred inside for Metcalfe to fire goalwards, the shot appearing to catch Harcourt which looped the ball over Jon Kennedy.
Matlock had eleven minutes plus a considerable chunk of stoppage time caused by unnecessary play acting from the visitors, to save themselves but they never looked like doing so.
James Lukic was pushed forward which left the predicted holes at the back and Curzon nearly exploited this when Kennedy bravely blocked from Dennis in a one on one. Then their skipper Sam Walker smacked a free kick against the bar.
A late Ashmore free kick sailed frustratingly and harmlessly on to the cricket pitch and with it Matlock’slast hope of forcing extra time.
MATLOCK: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Martin Foster 5 Laurence Gaughan 6 James Lukic 7 Geoffrey Gouveia (14 James Travis 57) 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Gareth Davies 11 Joe Leesley. Subs not used: 12 Will Dennis 15 Dave Edge 17 Nick Buxton
CURZON: 1 Josh Ollerenshaw 2 Simon Lakeland (17 Liam Bromley-Blackburn 46) 3 Connor Hampson 4 Jonathan Hunt 5 Simon Woodford 6 Ryan Watson 7 Matthew Purcell (15 Saul Henderson 89) 8 Sam Walker 9 Matty Kay (14Lee Blackshaw 77) 10 Kristian Dennis 11 Scott Metcalfe. Subs not used: 12 Chris McDonagh 16 Mick Haughton
REFEREE: S Eagland (Lichfield)
STAR GLADIATOR: Joe Leesley