Two almost identical goals, both from the gigantic long throws of Ben Bailey allowed the Wells brothers, Kieran and Bradley two of the easiest goals they will ever score, as Hednesford beat Matlock Town 2-0.
To concede once in such fashion is annoying, but then to have a repeat is unforgiveable and it might even have been a hat-trick of goals from Bailey’s massive deliveries as Kieran Wells struck the crossbar.
A tall strong Hednesford side who played to their strengths outmuscled Matlock. Gladiators fans have complained about hoofball from their side in recent weeks, this was a perfect example of how such tactics can work, the hosts playing direct with Matlock looking uncertain at the back. It meant the quality in the Gladiators’ release ball when they wanted to counter was left wanting, although in fairness to Dave Frecklington’s men, they regularly attempted to pass their way through to goal on a number of occasions but a determined Hednesford side defended better all over the park. Home goalkeeper Jacob Weaver therefore had a comfortable afternoon, as the Gladiators could not seriously trouble him throughout.
Matlock included deadline day loan signing Callum Chettle in place of Craig Westcarr with Jonny Margetts adopting the lone striker’s role with Chettle and Michael Williams supporting him from advanced midfield roles. Nathan Morley replaced Jordan Chapell in the other change from the Mickleover draw seven days earlier.
There was an early warning of what was to come for Matlock in only the 2nd minute when Bailey launched his throw from the right, Reece King getting the flick on which Matlock cleared unconvincingly. It needed someone in the back line to take charge.
But Matlock were not so fortunate when in the 6th minute, another massive throw caused confusion again and KIERAN WELLS got the slightest of touches to force the ball home for the scruffiest of goals.
A scrappy middle of the park battle followed with few clear cut chances for either side. Chettle though looked as if he was up to the job with an industrious, energetic performance, and his cross to the far post found Margetts who stabbed wide from close range in the 17th minute, but the assistant’s flag.
Matlock had penalty appeals refused when a Hednesford defender appeared to handle in a scramble, the move continuing for Nyle Blake to have a shot charged down.
Youngsters Blake and Morley though were struggling to have any real impact on a physical home side and it was no surprise when they were eventually replaced by Marcus Marshall and Greg Tempest early in the second half.
Hednesford’s loanee, Dan Sweeney, who notched a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw at the Proctor Cars Stadium in October, then twice went close, Ross Durrant diving to his left to keep out his first strike before shortly before the interval, his shot found its way beyond Durrant but Brad Beatson mopped up behind him to clear the danger.
Matlock had a sniff of a chance shortly after the break when a Chettle cross narrowly eluded Margetts and Morley’s follow up was blocked but just a couple of minutes after making their double substitution, the Gladiators fell further behind when BRADLEY WELLS had a simple finish from Bailey’s exocet delivery into the heart of the Matlock box.
Then came Matlock’s third error from a Bailey long throw which could easily have led to another goal and late on Sweeney shot wide after another lax moment of defending.
Matlock had more of the play late on but could not force a breakthrough. Annoyingly but for two horrendous defensive lapses, Matlock might well have brought home a point.
Hednesford: 1Jacob Weaver 2 Javan Vidal (12 Matt Curley 46) 3 Ben O’Hanlon 4 Alex Ray-Harvey 5 Charlie Gatter 6 Ben Bailey 7 Daniel Racchi 8 Reece King 9 Kieran Wells (15 Andre Wright 67) 10 Dan Sweeney (16 Izak Reid 87) 11 Bradley Wells Other subs: 14 Jack Hallahan 17 Jose Veiga
Matlock: 1 Ross Durrant 2 Lee Beevers 3 Bradley Beatson 4 Michael Hollingsworth 5 Dwayne Wiley 6 Adam Yates 7 Nyle Blake ( 14 Marcus Marshall 56) 8 Callum Chettle 9 Jonny Margetts 10 Michael Williams 11 Nathan Morley (1 Greg Tempest 56) Other subs: 12 Craig Westcarr 15 Jordan Chapell 17 Cleveland Taylor
Referee: G Rollason (Wolverhampton).
Best Gladiator: Michael Hollingsworth.