Hednesford Town 2 Matlock Town 2
Matlock’s ten men deservedly brought home a point from a tough trip to Keys Park as substitute and top scorer Lewis McMahon scored twice.
The major talking point came on 64 minutes when Gladiators skipper James Lukic tangled with Aaron Rey in the box and Atherstone official Ben Cooke pointed to the spot and brandished a red card in a shocked Lukic’s face.
Elliott Durrell showed no mercy from the spot and it looked as if the second-placed hosts and highly fancied future title winners would go on to dominate and record a comfortable win.
But Mark Atkins’ men had not read the script.
On came McMahon for Bradley Grayson and within 90 seconds of his arrival he had restored parity with a gem of a finish, lobbing keeper Dan Crane after Joe Leesley’s pass put him clear.
The determination and effort that had been evident from kick off from Matlock intensified as Hednesford poured forward but were struggling to make their extra man count.
Barbadian international Neil Harvey planted a header at Jon Kennedy on 82 minutes, but a minute later, their numerical advantage paid dividends as a neat one two on the edge of the Gladiators penalty box saw full back Alex Melbourne drive down the right and fire a low shot into the far corner.
But again Matlock would not lie down. Adam Yates cleared the bar with a header from a free-kick before at the other end Kennedy did well to turn away a strike from midfielder Jamey Osborne.
Matlock though came again and when the match was entering the first minute of stoppage time, McMahon was pushed by Francino Francis and from the second penalty of the contest McMahon was calmness personified as he easily converted his 21st goal of the campaign.
It capped a fine display from Matlock who had battled hard throughout.
At the start Matlock did well to repel early pressure from the Pitmen, desperate for maximum points in their pursuit of league leaders North Ferriby United.
Osborne and Rey missed early chances as Matlock soaked up the pressure, before Gareth Davies and Leesley did similar for the visitors.
Makeshift striker Laurence Gaughan set up James Ashmore whose shot hit the outside of the frame of the goal, and in an open start to the second-half Grayson fired straight at Crane and from a Leesley free kick, Lukic’s header drifted wide.
Hednesford responded with skipper Darren Campion’s strike being deflected for a corner.
Matlock though had a great chance to go in front on 53 minutes when Grayson found himself clear only to shoot against Crane’s feet in a one-on-one duel.
That escape appeared to wake the hosts up who themselves could have scored on the hour but Osborne rolled his shot wide, before Kennedy blocked another effort from the same player.
Then the drama really unfolded with the harsh dismissal of Lukic and Matlock’s fighting qualities coming to the fore.
McMahon will grab the headlines for his goals but it was a solid and industrious all-round team display from the Gladiators.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Hednesford: 1 Dan Crane 2 Alex Melbourne 3 Darren Campion 4 Ben Bailey 5 Francino Francis 6 Dave MacPherson (Kris Taylor 55) 7 Jamey Osborne 8 Elliott Durrell 9 Neil Harvey 10 Aaron Rey (Michael Lennon 75) 11 Kyle Patterson (Nathan Wolfe 55). Subs not used: John Disney, Sam Barnes
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Martin Foster 5 Adam Yates 6 James Lukic 7 Brad Grayson (Lewis McMahon 66) 8 James Ashmore 9 Laurence Gaughan 10 Gareth Davies 11 Joe Leesley (Lavell White 90) Subs not used: Ben Algar, James Travis, Will Dennis.
Ref: B Cooke Att: 391 Star Gladiator: Martin Foster
by Ian Richardson