Whitby Town 1
Matlock Town 2
Ross Hannah was the talk off the pitch before Wednesday night’s visit to the Turnbull Ground and he was certainly the talk on it as his late goal saw the Gladiators overturn a half-time deficit to gain three more precious points.
Fans were talking about a possible move to Torquay United, Hannah preferred to let his excellent strike rate do the talking as he notched goal number 43 in an amazing season.
The gusting wind meant the match was far from being a classic, but for Matlock it was a potentially tricky game out of the way and just their second league win in North Yorkshire.
The Seasiders led through Leon Scott on 38 minutes with the wind in their favour and had a goal ruled out shortly afterwards. But Matlock fought back well in the second period with Liam King levelling on 64 minutes before Hannah struck the decisive and killer blow with four minutes to go.
Kris Bowler and Liam King, strong nominations for man of the match, were prominent early on as Matlock made a bright start. Both players saw shots drift narrowly wide before Hannah could find no power in his shot following a Gareth Davies through-pass. Whitby then had both Jez Cornforth and Ashley Lyth booked in quick succession fore mistimed challenges. Lyth would regret his first indiscretion with two minutes left when he tripped Dene Cropper on the byline a few yards in. That brought him a second yellow card and a sending off.
Ibrahim Hussan did well to clear a teasing Bowler cross from the left before the match became scrappy as the wind dominated.
Out of the blue though came a Whitby goal when Lee Featherstone was caught sleeping from an Alex White driven pass from the left and, cutting in from the right, Leon Scott drove low and true beyond Adam Sollitt from twenty yards.
The goal looked to be a hammer blow to Matlock and it might have been worse but for the assistant’s flag shortly afterwards to chalk out a strike from Andy Leeson who had replaced former Middlesbrough and Bradford City striker Andy Campbell on 22 minutes.
Matlock emerged after half-time full of determination but needing an extra touch of class to make their superiority count.
They were unfortunate not to be level within five minutes of the restart when Bowler’s inswinging corner was nodded away by Kieran Burgess with some visiting fans saying the ball had crossed the line.
It was referee Sharp’s opinion that mattered though but Matlock began to dictate the play again and a King cross failed to fall conveniently for them in the Whitby box before the midfielder shot weakly at Campbell, who gathered with ease.
Hussan was a tower of strength at the back for the Seasiders, winning many important challenges. But White made the best one to keep out Hannah, although neither could prevent the equaliser. Steve Warne and King linked smartly some 20 yards out, the latter scoring with a well-drilled low shot beyond Campbell’s despairing dive.
The equaliser did Matlock a world of good and, almost instantly, Warne tested Campbell from 25 yards, the goalkeeper pushing away the shot to his right. Then Bowler drove too high before Joynes shot softly towards goal after a terrible clearance by Campbell.
Cropper, on for Featherstone, headed directly at Campbell from Hannah’s cross. Hannah had been closely marked thus far, but when he got a sniff of a chance, that was all he needed.
King slipped a simple but effective short pass to Hannah on his left and, faced by just Campbell, there would only be one result, a neatly-rolled finish under the stricken keeper.
Whitby had scarcely threatened in the second half and Matlock sensibly retained possession in the hosts’ half, a frustrated Lyth seeing red to add to their woes.
Matlock ground out the win which was deserved in testing conditions, right next to the chilly winds from the North Sea.
MATLOCK TOWN: Adam Sollitt, Kris Witcombe (Lee Morris 85), Lee Featherstone (Dene Cropper 76), Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Gareth Davies, Steve Warne, Nathan Joynes (James Knowles 88), Ross Hannah, Kris Bowler. Other sub: Nick Buxton
REFEREE: N J Sharp--Hartlepool
STAR MAN: Liam King