Report by Rod Hadley
A late first half strike by Dave Whittaker ensured the Pitmen’s current unbeaten League run did not fall at the thirteenth hurdle.
Matlock started the game brightly and with the Pitmen playing a new formation it some became evident that the team would take time to settle but once they got organised the home team rarely troubled Ryan Young in the Pitmen goal. However it did not look like that for the first half an hour of the game as the Pitmen were under constant pressure from a skilful Matlock forward line.
The Pitmen included new signing, Gary Sucharewycz who had been signed 24 hours earlier from Alfreton Town and he lined up with Tom Marshall and Ross Adams in a three man centre back formation. The former Alfreton player had a tremendous debut and gave a man of the match performance, which was certainly needed early in the game.
Ryan Young and Sucharewycz cleared early danger from a Bowler left wing cross, the winger was a constant threat, another cross had the home fans shouting for a penalty as strong Pitmen defending averted the danger. All the play at this stage was in the Pitmen half and another move involving Bowler who started a good move featuring Holmes whose final pass found Warne in space, as he lined up to shoot Terry Henshaw dived in to close his options and the forward pulled his shot just wide.
Darren Alexander was caught in possession and Bowler tried a chip shot from distance but luckily Ross Adams was alert to the danger and swept back to head away.
The Pitmen were finally moving out of their own half and a good opportunity to give the defence a breather was scorned in the 20th minute, Alexander was tackled in front of the dug-outs which resulted in a free kick and a rare opportunity to place the ball into the Matlock penalty area. Terry Henshaw’s free kick sailed into the area but was quickly cleared back up field, a pass back to Ryan Young seemed to keep possession but his clearance found Gary Webster who hit a first time volley back towards goal where Young collected on the edge of the box.
Matlock’s Barrowclough second’s later attempted a curling shot which only went just wide of Young’s right hand post.
The extent of Matlock’s domination of the early play was highlighted by the time of the Pitmen’s first corner, which came after 30 minutes. Adams took a good corner, which was headed out for another, but this corner did not lead to any goalmouth action.
The game seemed to be turned on its head as all the play was now being played in Matlocks half, Dyer created a chance for himself when he stole the ball of Circuit on the half way line and after running at the defence he tried a shot from 20 yards which went just wide of the post.
Iain Screaton wasted a good move when he over hit a cross into the keeper’s arms when well placed, Dyer shortly after got behind the Matlock defence to cross from the bye line, Tom Franklin making a late run was just unable to get a head onto the ball and it was cleared.
The Pitmen then scored what was to be the only goal of the game when Dyer received the ball inside the penalty area out left and with his back to goal. He skilfully turned to send a well-weighted pass into the path of Dave Whittaker who took one stride to side foot home from just outside the six-yard box.
The second half began with cautions for Tom Franklin and Matlock’s Steve Circuit after a tussle on the half way line. Franklin was lucky not to receive a red soon after as he was only spoken to by the Referee after pulling back Ryan Davis.
The Pitmen’s back line were giving little away and only a Barrowclough effort on the hour going just across the face of the goal gave Matlock a chance to equalise.
Steve Warne was cautioned for a lunge on Tom Franklin after 63 minutes and from Ross Adam’s free kick Ross Dyer headed wide. Darren Alexander whose work rate was exceptional held the ball up on the edge of the box, despite three defenders attention he still got the ball to Terry Henshaw whose pass was defended by Matlock captain James Lukic.
In the 68th minute Chad Sheppard replaced Tom Franklin and shortly after Whittaker set Dyer on another run at the Matlock defence, the ball was cleared for a throw-in and from the restart Sheppard was soon in action as his attempt on goal went just wide and out of the reach of Dyer.
With 15 minutes to go Phil Hadland came on for Darren Alexander, who had ran himself into the ground. Hadland was soon in action and on a run on the right wing he was hacked to the ground by Richard Taylor who was cautioned for the challenge, Adams free kick into the box failed to create a chance but the clearance only found Sheppard who shot high over from the edge of the box.
With time running out Ross Dyer had another attacking run into the Matlock penalty area; despite the attention of the full back he still managed to get a shot towards goal which was deflected which was missed by the officials who gave a goal-kick,
The physio had only been on once during the afternoon, so it came as a surprise to the travelling fans that there was going to be 4 minutes extra to be played but in the end they had no need to worry as the team continued to battle and stop Matlock from scoring in a League game for the first time this season.