Frustrated Matlock held to draw by strugglers

Tom Cruttenden in the thick of the action during Matlock's 20-20 draw with Loughborough.
Tom Cruttenden in the thick of the action during Matlock's 20-20 draw with Loughborough.

Frustrated Matlock were held to a disappointing 20-20 draw at home to struggling Loughborough to fluff a chance to go second in the Midlands 2 East (North) division of the National League.

Matlock were looking forward to build on a solid performance the previous week when they won at Lincoln, who went on to defeat second-placed Newark.

But instead they were thwarted by a Loughborough side lying next to bottom, after losing seven of their previous 11 matches.

The hosts weren’t helped by an enforced reshuffle because of injuries, with both first-choice props missing, Dan Hooton dropping out to rest a trapped nerve and James Fairclough withdrawing with a groin strain sustained in the pre-match build-up.

They started brightly enough and were soon ahead when the irrepressible Mike Emmerson drove over for a try that wasn’t quite converted by Tom Morton.

This should have been the springboard to take charge and blow the visitors away. But Matlock struggled to find any real continuity, and handed Loughborough a decent share of possession thanks to unforced handling errors and the concession of unnecessary penalties. The visitors took full advantage and a penalty, followed by a try, gave them a 10-5 lead by the 20th minute.

Matlock responded with a touch of class as Curtis Bolam showed superb vision and skill to sweep a long pass out to Mike Allen, who made ground before sending Alex Powell free to race up the wing and bring the scores level.

Six minutes later, they were back in front as Harry Boyd finished a move started by a charging run from Tom Cruttenden and again featuring a sublime long pass by Bolam, giving them a half-time lead of 15-10.

From the restart, Loughborough sensed the possibility of snatching some much-needed points and soon levelled. And even though Matlock got their noses in front again with a try from Luke Howard, after good work by Cruttenden and captain Simon Wright, back came the visitors to grab a share of the spoils with five minutes remaining.