Matlock Town again gave away sloppy goals to gift Grantham a 3-2 victory and suffer their first home defeat of the campaign on Monday.
The Gladiators found themselves 3-0 down by the 34th minute before Marc Newsham netted on the stroke of half-time to give them hope. But a second goal for the hosts did not come until stoppage time at the end of the game with Shaun Harrad’s effort no more than a consolation.
So it was a disappointing afternoon for Matlock on a fine August Bank Holiday in front of a healthy 529 crowd. Until Matlock stop gifting the opposition goals, life will be more difficult, though, than it should be for them.
Give Grantham credit though, they began the far more effective outfit by pushing Matlock back with Luke Shaw at the heart of most of their attacks down the left. He drove narrowly over the bar inside the opening minute before his namesake Lee was off target with a speculative fifth-minute attempt.
Their bright start though was rewarded on 15 minutes when Jordan Hempenstall threaded an accurate low shot from the edge of the penalty box beyond Phil Barnes when Matlock skipper Adam Yates failed to clear effectively and when Joe Doyle-Charles was guilty of the same offence nine minutes later, Curtis Burrows low shot doubled the Gingerbreads lead.
Grantham custodian Kieran Preston pushed a Newsham drive wide in the next minute as Matlock sought a much-needed response but their cause looked hopeless when more terrible defending ended with Lee Shaw stroking a low shot into the corner when unmarked from a cross on the right. It was proving to be a happy return for Gingerbreads’ midfielder Andy Wright, who had a spell on loan from Lincoln City at Matlock last season.
Ryan Wilson had three shots blocked for a shell-shocked Matlock in a game of pinball shortly afterwards, but Newsham’s neat header from a Ted Cribley centre at least gave the home crowd some encouragement for the second half when their side had most of the play but struggled to find the vital breakthrough.
A Harrad free kick was off target before a chance fell for Cribley who decided against shooting and the danger for the visitors passed. Substitute Luis Rose head over the bar with virtually his first touch before Harrad failed to find any power in his shot to trouble Preston. Harrad had a further effort blocked before a Rose header was cleared off the line with five minutes remaining.
Harrad’s excellent header from a Cribley cross cut the deficit to just one goal but it was too little, too late even though the Gingerbreads were down to ten men for the final eight minutes as Lee Shaw saw red for two minor bookable offences.
Matlock had again been punished for their defensive generosity and need to get the basics right for their failure to do so is costing them seriously at present.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Darnelle Bailey-King (15 Luis Rose 60) 8 Ryan Wilson 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Marc Newsham (17 Zeyn Hakeem 60) 11 Ted Cribley. Other subs: 14 Callum Lloyd 15 Rhys Sharpe 16 Tyler Blake
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Kieran preston 2 Tom Potts 3 Riley Thompson 4 Matt Baker 5 Luke Shaw 6 Michael Hollingsworth 7 Danny Meadows 8 Andy Wright (17 Kegan Everington 83) Jordan Hempenstall (12 Jack McMenemy 73) 10 Lee Shaw 11 Curtis Burrows (15 Tom Curtis 89). Other subs: 14 Jeremiah Desaolu 16 Kevin Rastos de Silva
REFEREE: Luke Watson (Barnsley)
BEST GLADIATOR: Shaun Harrad