Saturday, March 19, 2012
Evo-Stik League Premier Division
Matlock Town 1
Lewis McMahon 75
Nantwich Town 0
Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Lee Featherstone, Liam King, Laurence Gaughan, James Lukic, Gareth Davies (Chris Bettney 14), Adam Yates (Kris Bowler 77),Ian Holmes (T J Nightingale 80), Lewis McMcMahon, Ben Algar. Subs not used - Liam Wilkin, Nick Buxton
Referee: A Moore-Stockport
Star man: James Lukic
Lewis McMahon struck for the second successive home game to earn the same 1-0 verdict in a closely fought Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division clash on Saturday.
As in the previous home match against Rushall, which coincidentally had the same referee, Matlock dominated the second half after a slow start. The difference this time was the goal not coming as late in the contest and it was from open play.
Manager Mark Atkins recalled Ben Algar to the starting line-up with Adam Yates, the latter adopting a midfield berth, as predicted, following a promising display in the second half at FC United in their previous fixture.
Atkins would have been concerned about Matlock’s slow start as the Dabbers made all the early running. In the third minute, a cross from full back Andy White skimmed off James Lukic’s head and Jon Kennedy pushed the ball away.
Then Sean Cooke outfoxed Lee Featherstone on the right but his hoisted cross made the heading chance difficult even for the prolific Michael Lennon, who nodded tamely wide.
A through pass from Matt Lowe looked like finding Lennon but Kennedy saw the danger early, racing off his line to nick the ball off Lennon’s toes.
Gareth Davies limped off in the 14th minute following an earlier challenge, to give Chris Bettney the chance to shine on the right.
But it was Algar on the other wing who fashioned the Gladiators’ first chance on 19 minutes, his shot from the edge of the box deflecting straight to goalkeeper Jon Brain.
Bettney got the chance to try his luck from 25 yards five minutes later, his low effort being gathered by Brain. Then McMahon’s header from Algar’s centre lacked power as Matlock were now more in the game.
Lennon looked to be on the end of a Cooke cross in the 32nd minute but the offside flag was up and Kennedy’s good stop counted for nothing.
Kennedy was then well placed to hold Lennon’s header following another break from the right, but generally Matlock’s defenders, with James Lukic leading by example, were firmly in charge.
Bettney released Yates on a driving run and Brain did well to hold the resulting well hit twenty five yarder before Liam King leant back as he strode on to a Harcourt pass to lift his shot over the bar.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Matlock found the net when Laurence Gaughan’s header from a corner was bundled in by McMahon but referee Moore ruled in favour of Brain.
Matlock set their stall out for the second half early and Holmes should probably have done better than nod Algar’s cross wide in the 49th minute.
Brain kept Nantwich on level terms in the 64th minute, superbly palming aside a ferociously struck Bettney free kick. Five minutes later, a good opportunity went begging when Holmes blasted carelessly too high after a probing run by Featherstone had set him up nicely.
Eventually, the pressure told when McMahon struck. Nantwich wasted a throw as Harcourt comfortably headed the ball forward and Holmes helped it on to McMahon. With the Dabbers defence snoozing, the on-loan Gainsborough man kept his cool to draw Brain and then fire past the covering Lowe.
Matlock sensibly brought on fresh legs in Kris Bowler and TJ Nightingale, the latter again showing his willingness to work tirelessly.
Nantwich made a late but vain bid to salvage a draw but that man Lukic produced a terrific block to deny Lennon at the expense of a corner.
So part one of the task Atkins had set in getting two successive home wins from what he labelled as vital games has been achieved.
Bottom club Burscough are in town next and while it looks as if the tougher hurdle has been overcome, Matlock will be well aware of the need to take the chances that come their way to ensure that they pass part two of their test.