Matlock Town were beaten 2-1 at home to lowly Corby Town on Saturday after a disappointing day for the Gladiators
Saturday’s result at the DCJ Group Arena proved that the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division is alive and kicking in that on any given day, any team can beat any other.
Few would have given foot of the table Corby much chance of winning this encounter, even after their great win over Spennymoor Town on New Years Day. but the Steelmen had three chances, scoring from two of them before the interval through Phil Trainer and Ben Milnes, while Matlock had double that and could only manage a late consolation from Alex Pursehouse.
The loss of four key players undoubtedly hit the Gladiators hard. Suspension kept out Michael Williams, Ted Cribley was missing through bronchitis, Jake Green was injured but named as a substitute and top scorer Marcus Dinanga suffered a family bereavement on the morning of the match.
Although Adam Yates was recalled, Nico Degirolamo had to partner Anthony Dwyer in attack with Marc Newsham still struggling with injury.
Mason Warren was given a first start in midfield and Jamie Yates took Cribley’s slot on the left flank. New signing Cenk Acar, a striker on loan from Lincoln City was a substitute.
Matlock began promisingly enough as on two minutes, Anthony Dwyer latched on to a long pass to get behind tall defender Aaron Brown but goalkeeper Aidan Grant was down smartly to block his diagonal low shot. Soon afterwards a stray backpass from Miles Smith put Grant in trouble, the goalkeeper managing to drop on the ball under pressure from Dwyer.Degirolamo saw Grant tip away a strike on 16 minutes with Matlock at this time having most of the play and looking to Niall McManus for that extra bit of sparkle.
But Corby, sensing that they might be able to stretch their unbeaten run to three games, came more into the game as the half progressed and they hit Matlock with two goals inside six minutes.
Matlock’s defending from a 28th minute corner on the left was poor as Trainer thumped a header into the top corner and Phil Barnes deserved better protection from his team mates for the second goal as he brilliantly kept out a low strike from Jordon Crawford. But Milnes was quickest on the scene to knock home the loose ball from a couple of yards out.
A one goal deficit would probably have been manageable for Matlock, but being two goals adrift was simply too much, However, it could and probably should have been all different when in between the two Corby goals, Dwyer found himself clear of the trailing Corby defenders only for Grant to have a comfortable save from Dwyer’s gentle lob in a one on one tussle. It was a gilt edged and a costly missed opportunity.
Dwyer though, was terribly unfortunate a minute before the break when his 20-yarder beat Grant but cannoned back off the post, giving extra backing to the thought that it would not be Matlock’s day.
Matlock needed an early second half goal and when a Jamie Yates cross was only cleared as far as Warren some twenty yards out, Corby breathed again as Grant was down quickly to save the midfielder’s shot.
Acar was given a chance to shine and he was immediately busy worrying the Corby defenders who in the main and despite the Matlock chances, had dealt well with the Gladiators attacks.
Newsham then replaced Dwyer before Corby found themselves down to ten men as Trainer was sent off for a lunge at Adam Yates with seventeen minutes to go.
Two minutes earlier, Trainer had Corby’s one shot of the second half, albeit an excellent one, trying his luck from distance and striking the bar.
A good Matlock chance went begging on 79 minutes when after Newsham’s shot had been charged down, Degirolamo screwed wide from ten yards.
A goal then would have set up a grandstand finish,
But when the goal came, with a minute of the regulatory ninety to go, it did not leave the hosts with enough time to salvage a point.
Corby made a hash of clearing a Warren cross and Pursehouse swept the ball home for his third goal of the season.
The visitors held on for their first away win of the season.
Predictably given the circumstances, Matlock did not fire on all cylinders which was a pity given the very healthy 542 attendance. They were still worthy of at least a point though but were punished for sloppiness at both ends of the field.
They now have a clear week ahead of Saturday’s massive FA Trophy clash at Barrow giving chance for the injuries and illness to clear up, plus the availability once more of Williams and Dinanga.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Alex Pursehouse 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Nico Degirolamo 9 Anthony Dwyer (16 Marc Newsham 61) 10 Mason Warren 11 Jamie Yates (14 Cenk Acar 54) Other subs: 12 Kevin Grocott 15 Jake Green
CORBY TOWN: 1 Aidan Grant 2 Miles Smith 3 Steven Leslie 4 Connor Kennedy 5 Aaron Brown 6 Jason Lee 7 David Bell 8 Ben Milnes 9 Stefan Moore (17 Adam Frisch 77) 10 Phil Trainer 11 Jordon Crawford Other subs: 12 Steven Kinnibrough 14 Jamie Anton 15 Tyler Blake 16 Ryan Bell
REFEREE: S. Barrott (Huddersfield).
BEST GLADIATOR: Mason Warren.