Last night Matlock Town U17s crashed out of the FA Youth Cup after a closely contested, hard fought 1-0 defeat to neighbours Alfreton Town.
Although they were unable to create any real chances the young Gladiators were firmly in control of the game in the opening stages of play as the team in blue enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.
Tricky winger Ethan Knowles impressed early down the right side with his skill and clever play and looked to be Matlock’s main outlet.
Captain Harry Wood also started brightly and set the benchmark with his strong workmanlike performance whilst sitting just in front of the back four, however it was Alfreton who took the lead.
A long ball down the left-hand side found Harvey Grice, who managed to control and spin his man to break into the Matlock box from where he coolly slotted the ball in off the post into Alfie Smith-Eccles’ goal.
The remainder of the half wore on without either side forcing a chance and Matlock went in at the end of the first 45 a goal down.
As the second half began the young Gladiators forged arguably their best chance of the game so far, however after a scramble in the box Billy Whitehead lashed just wide of the Reds’ goal.
After the early chance Matlock U17s continued the half as they’d finished the first, enjoying most of the possession without ever really challenging Matt Hill in the Alfreton goal.
With time running out the Gladiators managed to force an elusive chance, the ball was flashed across goal and a deft touch from the lively Knowles almost levelled the tie before a smart stop from goalkeeper Hill kept the game at 1-0.
With only minutes left Matlock again came within a whisker of drawing level as a floated ball into the box was met by substitute Declan Sorrell, whose looping header shaved the outside of the post.
The youngsters pushed to claw themselves level as the game went into injury time, but a flurry of late set pieces couldn’t get them back into it and Alfreton ran out 1-0 winners.