Matlock leave it late to claim last-gasp equaliser

TJ Nightingale, Matlock Town.
TJ Nightingale, Matlock Town.

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Saturday, November 14, 2011

Matlock Town 1

Micky Harcourt 90 + 3

Worksop Town 1

Jamie Jackson 55

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Oscar Radford, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Chris Bettney, Steve Warne (Gareth Davies 72), Ian Holmes, TJ Nightingale, Ben Algar. Other subs: Kris Bowler, Kris Witcombe, Ben Hunter, Nick Buxton.

Referee: M Dexter – Leicester

Attendance: 430

Star man: James Lukic

Time appeared to be running out for Matlock on Saturday as visiting Worksop looked as if they would pull off a rare away win at the Reynolds Stadium.

But the match is never over until the final whistle sounds and the Gladiators found their equaliser and a deserved point with their last throw of the dice.

Trailing to former Gladiator Jamie Jackson’s 55th minute goal, Matlock won a corner on the right three minutes into added time.

Chris Bettney, with his customary accuracy, floated in an inviting ball and Micky Harcourt thumped home a power-packed header.

Worksop goalkeeper Jon Worsnop got his hands to it but the ferocity of the header was just too much for him. It gave the match its right outcome.

Mark Atkins made just one change from the team which beat Hednesford in the FA Trophy. A change in formation to 4-4-2 saw TJ Nightingale recalled, with Gareth Davies dropping to the bench. Nathan Joynes had to sit out after a knee injury picked up in training.

Defences bossed the opening exchanges with opportunities in the half chance category only.

Nightingale ran beyond the Tigers back four to cross low for the stretching Liam King in the fifth minute, but the midfielder scooped a difficult chance wide.

Then at the other end, Jon Kennedy, playing against Worksop for the first time since his summer move from Sandy Lane, was perfectly positioned to hold a firmly struck 22-yarder from Mark Hudson.

Massiah McDonald’s left-wing cross saw Ash Burbeary’s deflected shot fall kindly for Kennedy and although giant on-loan striker Grant Allott managed to get his head to a Burbeary cross, it was never going to cause any trouble as James Lukic, again a tower of strength for the hosts, had the situation well under control.

Nightingale could have put his stamp on proceedings with two opportunities late in the first half. Harcourt found him clear with a long searching pass, but the striker’s ball control let him down and, as quickly as the chance came, it disappeared disappointingly.

Then Bettney was the provider but Nightingale was quickly closed down by Luke Shiels, and although he managed a shot, there was no power in it and Worsnop was able to gather easily.

Matlock set about their task in the second half with commendable gusto, pinning the Tigers back.

Ian Holmes flicked a header narrowly wide in the 49th minute and then Nightingale tried to play him clear with an intelligent pass shortly afterwards but he was offside.

Worsnop then spectacularly clawed away a 25-yard cracker from Steve Warne, but there was a sting in the tail for Matlock as Worksop grabbed the lead early in the second half.

Kennedy and Lukic combined to block Burbeary’s shot but, from an acute angle, Jackson fired the loose ball into the opposite bottom corner. Worksop, unbeaten under new boss Simon Clark, looked as if they were going to give their manager another outstanding result.

Matlock had to be wary of a strong Tigers outfit bearing their teeth again. Substitute Sam Duncum, forced Kennedy into a fine save to stop a second Worksop strike in the 79th minute.

A Matlock goal did not look as though it would come but they won that late, late corner, and Harcourt’s first Matlock goal could not have come at a better time. His one tinge of regret will come from an earlier booking to keep him out of the big FA Trophy tie with Hyde on November 26.