Title-chasing Matlock held to draw in battle of attrition

Mike Allen, who opened the scoring for Matlock with a try after only two minutes against Ashbourne.
Mike Allen, who opened the scoring for Matlock with a try after only two minutes against Ashbourne.

Title-chasing Matlock were held to a 10-10 draw amid horrendous weather in their latest match in the Midlands 2 East (North) division of the National League.

Matlock, who sit third in the table, five points behind leaders West Bridgford, accepted that the outcome was probably fair against opponents who always give them a tough contest.

But they might have expected better after a dream start in which they opened the scoring with barely two minutes on the clock. After they had moved through a couple of phases, an inside pass from Alex Powell saw Mike Allen power through a gap on halfway, handing off the next would-be tackler and stepping round the full-back to score under the posts. Tom Morton added the extras for an early 7-0 lead.

Buoyant Matlock looked to capitalise on this opening, but it wasn’t long before their best-laid plans were given a bodyblow when playmaker James Young had to leave the field with a neck injury after he was taken out by what Matlock described as “a cheap, unsavoury shot” at a ruck that the referee missed.

It forced them to reshuffle and gave Ashbourne a window to get back into the game, which they took with a pushover try from a five-metre scrum.

The score remained 7-5 until half-time, with the match developing into something of an arm-wrestle, although Matlock were relieved when the referee disallowed what looked a good score for the hosts because he was unable to see the touchdown.

The second half was a real battle of attrition in worsening weather. Matlock extended their lead with a Tom Morton penalty, but spurned a golden opportunity of a try within a metre or two of the Ashbourne line, and they were pegged back by a second pushover try from the home side with only two minutes to go.