Holmes at the double as Matlock take points

Lee Morris, Matlock Town
Lee Morris, Matlock Town
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Matlock Town 3

Ian Holmes 12, 47

Ben Hunter 70

Frickley Athletic 0

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Oscar Radford (Lee Featherstone 30), Liam King, Adam Yates (Steve Warne 41), James Lukic, Gareth Davies (Craig Nelthorpe 72), Kris Bowler, Ian Holmes, Lee Morris, Ben Hunter. Other subs: Scott Bibby, Nick Buxton.

Referee: M C Dexter – Leicester

Attendance: 311

Star man: Lee Morris

Matlock broke their winless league sequence at the ninth time of asking and it was all too easy against another out-of-form side who lost for the sixth successive game.

Ian Holmes scored twice with winger Ben Hunter adding a third against opponents who ended the game with ten men following striker Ollie Ryan’s 40th minute red card for a challenge which left Adam Yates with a suspected broken nose.

Kris Bowler was included in midfield at the expense of Steve Warne, who dropped to the bench, while Hunter was given a start, replacing Danny Davidson who was making his Coalville Town debut ten miles down the A6 at Belper. Craig Nelthorpe was given the all-clear to take his place on the bench after injury and suspension.

Frickley included former Matlock winger Ryan Mallon in what had been billed as a must-win game for both clubs.

Play was predictably scrappy in the opening exchanges, not helped by a bitter blustery wind. The ball needed to be played on the floor but it was like a hot potato, also spending too much time in the air.

Holmes had the first sniff of a chance in the tenth minute as Athletic goalkeeper Steve Dickenson held on to a good strike. Lee Morris, who led the attack with style, composure and grit, flicked the ball into Holmes to create the chance.

But Holmes would find the onion bag just two minutes later, when Hunter’s hanging centre from the left was palmed out by Dickenson. Gareth Davies was on to the loose ball in a flash to square to Holmes, whose low 12-yard shot beat defender Lincoln Adams on the line.

Ryan drove wide from an acute angle on the right three minutes later before there was a scramble in the Matlock penalty box in the 23rd minute. It took a while for Town to clear their lines but they did and Matlock were not troubled again in such circumstances.

There was a setback for the Gladiators when Oscar Radford limped off on the half hour, with Lee Featherstone taking over at left back. Hunter then moved on to Liam King’s pass to fire just over while, at the other end, Kennedy pushed aside Danny Walsh’s shot.

A second substitution was forced on Matlock when Yates had to come off with blood oozing from his nose following the red card issued to Ryan. King had to deputise at centre back.

After the break, Holmes rose to meet a Micky Harcourt cross after a quickly taken free-kick to glance a header just inside Dickenson’s left hand post 90 seconds into the second half. And Holmes could have notched a hat-trick just four minutes later when he fired low from Davies’s tremendous through-pass but Dickenson saved well.

The second goal had finished Frickley off. They looked deflated and short of ideas while conversely the verve and confidence missing from recent Matlock performances started to return. The Gladiators passed the ball about crisply and their third goal, with 20 minutes left, highlighed this.

Morris superbly held up play just inside the penalty box to hold off Kelvin Bleau and guide a sliderule pass in to Hunter, who advanced before drilling a low shot home.

Nelthorpe came on for Davies two minutes later and gave the home fans a glimpse of what could be some exciting times to come. The winger sprayed passes liberally around the park, was keen to cover when Frickley had the ball and had the urge to take on opponents. And the home crowd gasped as an audacious effort from easily 35 yards cannoned back off the post with Dickenson rooted to the spot.

Frickley looked poor but you can only beat what is put in front of you. Matlock did a professional job and this needs to be a springboard for advancement, in terms of performance and results.