Matlock end campaign with defeat to late goal

Adam Yates
Adam Yates

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Rushall Olympic 1

Kyle Brady 90

Matlock Town 0

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Kris Witcombe, Lee Featherstone, Liam King (Gareth Davies 74), Laurence Gaughan, James Lukic, Ben Algar, Kris Bowler, Ian Holmes, Nathan Joynes (Dene Cropper 74), Adam Yates. Other subs: Paul Riley, Matt Wilkinson, Nick Buxton.

Referee: A Fox - Coventry

Attendance: 268

Star man: James Lukic

A LAST-GASP winner from Kyle Brady denied the Gladiators a hard-earned point at Dales Lane in the final game of the season, extending the Gladiators’ winless sequence on the road in the league to 17 matches.

Matlock were certainly worth a point, but not all three from a poor quality game played on an uneven sloping surface.

Most of the visitors’ more dangerous moments came from long-range strikes, but equally goalkeeper Jon Kennedy also had a quiet afternoon thanks to a solid defensive performance from the Gladiators, who thankfully did not repeat the bad errors which had cost them the match against Whitby 36 hours earlier.

Kris Witcombe was deservedly given a start at right back with Adam Yates moving into midfield as Gareth Davies had to be content with a place on the bench.

Nathan Joynes partnered Ian Holmes in attack with Lewis McMahon ruled out, having had seven stitches inserted in a facial wound after the Whitby game.

But there was a welcome inclusion in the list of substitutes as Dene Cropper was named, and, when he replaced Joynes in the 74th minute, he was given rapturous applause by the visiting fans.

Under 19s star Matt Wilkinson was also included on the bench.

Rushall, in their debut season at this level, and in ninth spot before kick-off, immediately went on the attack but their distribution was often careless with too many passes hoofed forward and overhit.

They won a seventh minute corner from which Gary Fitzpatrick screwed a shot harmlessly wide after the flag kick had been headed out.

Ahmed Obeng looked lively for the hosts, winning another corner in the 12th minute off Lukic but Obeng then slammed the delivery dangerously across the six-yard box and out for a throw.

A promising Matlock break engineered by Joynes on 18 minutes came to nothing, when, following his fine run, his cross directed towards Holmes was cut out by Lucan Spittle’s excellent intercepting header.

Another flurry of Pics pressure ended with Obeng firing wildly wide seven minutes later and then on 33 minutes, a free-kick floated in was out of the radar of both Neil Kitching and Fitzpatrick.

A gentle Liam King strike was comfortably gathered by Chris Gemmell in the next minute before, just another 60 seconds later, Matlock came closest to taking the lead as Yates unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards. Gemmell moved swiftly to his right to punch away.

Ben Algar then found room in the home penalty box but over-elaboration saw the opportunity disappear as quickly as it had been created.

Another wild effort from Obeng, a cross-shot following a quickly taken free-kick flew yards wide as the half ended with Laurence Gaughan heading clear a Fitzpatrick free-kick.

The Pics increased the tempo after the interval and Yates produced a magnificent clearing header after Fitzpatrick had helped on a free kick.

Then on 52 minutes, a terrific scramble in the six-yard box ended with a calm Lukic clearing the danger. Matlock survived a scare on 56 minutes when Witcombe and Featherstone joined forces to clear off the line from Brady.

The pressure eased and Kris Bowler tried his luck from distance, a well-struck effort narrowly clearing the bar with Gemmell beaten.

Then Holmes found space in the box but could only fire at Gemmell from 12 yards.

Cropper showed some neat touches when he came on and certainly posed a threat for the home defence.

Bowler had another strike which was deflected wide as Town looked comfortable but Brady forced in a low cross with the game entering its 90th minute to break the Gladiators hearts.

Manager Mark Atkins knows he has plenty of hard work ahead of him in the summer as the Gladiators finished in a disappointing 14th, caused in the main by their failure to win more away games.