As top-of-the-table clashes go this was a disappointment with fourth-placed Matlock hurting the most at the final whistle against the league leaders.
In a stadium with little atmosphere in front of a pitifully poor crowd, last season’s First Division North champions edged home thanks to an 83rd minute strike from Ashley Dunn.
Chances in the second-half had been scarce and until the final stages Matlock had looked the more dangerous and deserved a point, but not all three.
They had seldom looked in trouble before Shaun Tuck sounded a 78th minute warning as Town goalkeeper Jon Kennedy was down quickly to hold his angled shot.
That late push from ‘Skem’ probably resulted from them sensing that Matlock had not punished them when the visitors held the upper hand.
There proved to be no escape for Matlock when Dunn was allowed room in the box to fire past Kennedy and the Gladiators had little time left to respond.
Kennedy was the busier of the two goalkeepers in a match where few clear cut chances were created.
But he played no part when the hosts found a way through the generally strong Town defence on nine minutes.
Livewire winger Matty Hughes released Dean Astbury who screwed his shot wide of the advancing Town custodian.
Astbury was in again in the 25th minute and this time Kennedy excelled as he pushed aside a low strike after Hughes again had been the instigator.
But Matlock made their mark in between as Danny Holland, again a willing workhorse, drove directly at Andy Paxton before turning neatly to pull his shot inches wide of the near post.
Paxton is United’s goalkeeping coach and had been called into action after both of United’s regular keepers became unavailable.
Matlock full-back Micky Harcourt was closest of all as again Holland was heavily involved, rolling a pass across the edge of the penalty area only for Harcourt’s shot to beat the diving Paxton but rebound off the foot of the post on 34 minutes.
Then shortly after the restart it was Matlock’s other full-back Oscar Radford who came close. bursting into the box to force Paxton to bundle his goalbound shot behind.
Bradley Grayson, having had his international clearance confirmed in time for the game after his move back to Derbyshire from playing in Sweden, replaced Daryll Thomas but could not engineer a breakthrough before Dunn struck.
Then afterwards an Adam Yates header was off target but Matlock could not find anything else from their locker to bear fruit.
The outcome was harsh on Matlock against a side who, judging by this performance, may struggle to retain their top-of-the-table status as the season progresses.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Skelmersdale: 1 Andy Paxton 2 Peter Wylie 3 Shaun Holden 4 Tom Hardwick 5 Rob McIntosh 6 Ashley Dunn 7 Matty Hughes 8 Kenny Stickland 9 Dean Astbury 10 Porya Ahmadi (Shaun Tuck 74) 11 Adam Morning (Kevin Leadbetter 62) Other subs: Joe Holt, Alan Burton, Zac Hibbert
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Martin Foster (Corey Gregory 84) 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Daryll Thomas (Bradley Grayson 74) 11 Lavell White Other subs: Anton Foster, Joe Leesley, Matty Leese
Ref: S Mycock Att: 191 Star Gladiator: Adam Yates
Report by Ian Richardson