by Ian Richardson
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Evo-Stik League Premier Division
Matlock Town 3
Ben Algar 51
Lewis McMahon 56, 71
Niall Cummins 89
Half-time substitute Liam Wilkin provided the spark and energy to pep up a predictable looking Matlock attack and unlock the Burscough defence’s door for the Gladiators’ third successive home win.
The contest was scoreless at the interval with Burscough having created virtually nothing, while the Gladiators persisted with the long ball which all too often was overhit.
But in the second half, Matlock improved immeasurably with Wilkin the catalyst, making the two opening goals.
Niall Cummins’s late strike was strictly in the consolation class for the bottom-placed visitors, who never threw in the towel, in front of a crowd of 242.
Matlock recalled Chris Bettney and Kris Bowler to the line-up. Adam Yates was back in central defence alongside skipper James Lukic while making welcome return on the bench was forward Nathan Joynes after knee surgery.
Matlock went looking for an early goal with McMahon firing over the bar when found by Bettney in the third minute. The hosts should have gone in front though when Micky Harcourt’s long raking pass defeated a square looking Linnets’ defence. Ian Holmes was through but delayed his shot and goalkeeper Craig Ellison saved well.
Matlock remained in control without ever threatening the breakthrough, that is until the 26th minute. Algar released McMahon who looked to be fouled by Paul Williams. McMahon tried to keep his balance when a penalty could easily have been awarded, eventually firing against the outside of the post. Williams was booked five minutes later for pulling back Algar.
A brief Burscough threat was repelled by Lukic’s tremendous challenge on Matty Parry before a largely mundane half came to a close with McMahon clipping over the bar.
The Gladiators made a purposeful start to the second half. Ellison held an Algar strike but the respite was only brief as Wilkin’s penetrating pass found Algar to fire low into the net after 51 minutes.
After a 25-yarder from midfielder Phil Clarke bounced wide, Matlock netted for a second time in five minutes when Wilkin again was the provider and McMahon scored for the third home game in a row, stroking his finish comfortably past Ellison.
Wilkin had made a big difference, but consistent throughout the 90 minutes was Bowler, who won his tackles well and linked play up nicely in the engine room.
Paul Riley came on for Algar after returning from Eastwood Town and, within three minutes, Matlock had put the match well out of Burscough’s reach.
McMahon looked offside as he ran on to a ball played down the middle. It looked initially as if the visitors had been reprieved as the on-loan Gainsborough striker’s shot was blocked but he followed up to net the loose ball.
Wilkin was brimming with confidence, borne out by his cheeky back flick which released Riley and only Ellison’s agility stopped Matlock from extending their lead.
In a late rally, Burscough finally got the goal they deserved when Niall Cummins converted from close range with a minute left.
The win was comfortable enough, but achieved chiefly through Wilkin’s introduction. He will be feeling he has shown enough to be in the running for a starting place in the upcoming games.