Late goal is just reward for never-say-die Matlock

TJ Nightingale, Matlock Town
TJ Nightingale, Matlock Town

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Matlock Town 1

Lewis McMahon 90 + 1

Rushall Olympic 0

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Lee Featherstone, Liam King, Laurence Gaughan (TJ Nightingale 65), James Lukic, Gareth Davies, Kris Bowler, Ian Holmes, Lewis McMahon, Ben Algar (Chris Bettney 59) Other subs: Liam Wilkin, Nick Buxton.

Referee: A Moore – Stockport

Attendance: 335

Star Man: Lewis McMahon

Late pressure told as Matlock deservedly took all three points at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday.

Visitors Rushall Olympic, playing at Matlock for the first time, but down to ten men since the 74th minute when substitute Matty Lewis saw red, could have few complaints about the outcome, as the Gladiators, showing a pleasing never-say-die attitude, battered them during the final 20 minutes.

The hosts will not care one jot that the winner came from the penalty spot.

Only their second league victory since the end of November came when Grant Beckett handled in the box and debutant Lewis McMahon was ice cool in slamming the ball low inside the post, in the first of five added minutes at the end.

On loan McMahon replaced the unlucky TJ Nightingale who had given a man-of-the-match performance at North Ferriby four days earlier.

The other change was enforced with Adam Yates having a stomach bug, so Laurence Gaughan switched to central defence with Lee Featherstone recalled at left back.

Facing a stiff cold swirling wind as they kicked towards the Town End, Matlock soon won a free kick when James Skedgel fouled Ben Algar on the left but Gareth Davies’s delivery was cleared.

The Pics responded to win two quick corners but headers from Craig Bannister and Ahmed Obeng were off target.

Then, a careless James Lukic back pass let in the lively Obeng but the Gladiators’ skipper atoned for his error by clearing off the line.

Davies then drove too high from a partially cleared corner with a free kick from visiting captain Martyn Naylor suffering the same fate.

To prove the point that the better chances would fall to Matlock, McMahon’s sweet turn on the edge of the box nearly brought an opener in the 21st minute, the former Sheffield Wednesday and York striker firing across the face of goal.

Two swift cautions followed as Decio Gomes tripped Holmes and then Kris Bowler went in hard on James Skedgel.

A long raking pass found Holmes whose shot was high and wide in the 33rd minute before Obeng went down easily under challenge from Micky Harcourt but Naylor’s free kick lacked guile as it was charged down.

Matlock might so easily have had the boost of an interval lead when Holmes slipped a pass to the overlapping Algar but goalkeeper Chris Gemmell excelled for the first time with a fine block save with the whistle imminent.

Beckett shot over and Bannister’s effort was easily saved by Jon Kennedy in the early stages of the new half, but clear cut chances were then few and far between.

That changed when the recently introduced Lewis sliced wide on 57 minutes when played through by Alex Melbourne.

Chris Bettney came on for Algar to show greater poise while Gaughan went off with a pulled muscle meaning Liam King dropped back to partner Lukic in central defence.

There was far more urgency in Matlock’s play as time progressed, particularly after Lewis’s dismissal.

Shortly afterwards Gemmell produced a top class save from a Bettney free kick to fingertip the ball over the crossbar.

In a flurry of chances, Lukic headed a Bettney free-kick wide before King’s shot was booted off the line.

Nightingale, who had replaced Gaughan, found the net with a bullet header with five minutes left, but the offside flag chalked the effort off.

Successive shots from Bowler and Holmes were blocked, with penalty appeals for handball being refused but McMahon took responsibility with the stoppage time penalty to give the Gladiators a massive three points.

Hard work had been rewarded.