Second Gladiator's goal puts the Reds to the sword
The end of season agony continued for Reds as they suffered their first defeat in six visits to the DCJ Group Arena, and that after a making a decent start to the afternoon.
For the first half of this encounter in pleasant Derbyshire sunshine, Reds had control of the game but looked a spent force long before the finish with Matlock completing a comfortable league double at their expense.
And commenting on another frustrating defeat, one could sense the concern in Lee Andrews’ assessment.
“I think it is disappointing obviously as we had enough chances in the first half to go in at half time at least level and were still in contention until their second goal, which took the wind out of our sails. After that, the game just caught up with the lads we had available,” was his take on matters.
“The second goal gave them a lift which you expect, especially after their current run of form with six wins on the bounce. They suddenly looked fresher and we were dead on our feet.”
David Symington was probably the busiest player on a dry, end of season pitch in the first half but his influence, and that of his colleagues, disappeared in a one-sided second forty five minutes as Town’s purple patch continued.
He was supplying crosses and assists from open play and dead ball situations and had far more touches than anyone else – but to no avail.
Scott Allison couldn’t connect to one far post cross and Richard Walton gathered the ball comfortably then Steven Rigg and Sam Smith almost benefitted from similar service.
And when he had a go at goal himself, Walton parried the shot and Max Brown couldn’t convert the rebound, before he sent a free kick narrowly wide.
Matlock had three notable chances and, by converting one, their ratio was more impressive.
Ricky German’s shot in the opening minute was deflected for a corner but his second attempt, a well struck volley via Jake Phillips’ assist, was comfortably caught by Aaran Taylor.
The Gladiators, against the run of play at that point, opened the scoring after twenty four minutes and it came from a well delivered set piece. The talented Harry Wood delivered an inviting corner, Kieran Wallace flicked the ball on and Adam Yates stooped to head home from close range.
They almost doubled their lead just before the break with Jamie Jackson dancing round Dan Wordsworth, one of several playing through the pain barrier, before seeing his angled shot gathered by Taylor.
The game was settled on the hour with a fine goal scored on the counter. Reds had been searching for that elusive equaliser with a Rigg effort, routinely dealt with by Walton, probably the nearest they came to doing so.
But it was the hosts who got the second crucial goal of the afternoon. Ted Cribley broke through a static defence and carried the ball half the length of the pitch before supplying the perfect pass to German, who confidently scored the goal he deserved.
From that point Matlock were content to strut their stuff as they romped to a sixth consecutive win, overtaking Reds in the process.
Reds never looked capable of grabbing a late consolation and Walton’s only action was collecting a hopeful punt into the air from Jamie Mellen while Symington’s last minute free kick missed the target.
Matlock Town Walton, Phillips, Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates, Wiley, Wallace, Wood, German (Ondong-Mba, 64), Cribley (Brunt, 84), Jackson (Whitehead, 77). Substitutes – Limb, Kabeya (not used).
Workington Taylor, Douglas (Harker, 78), Rowntree, Wordsworth, Smith, Mellen, Brown (Holliday, 72), Holt, Allison, Rigg, Symington. Substitutes – Hetherington, Andrews (not used).
Referee Wade Smith, Stockport
Booking: Mellen (Workington)