Tuesday 14th January 2014
by Ian Richardson
Grantham Town 1 - 1 Matlock Town
Saturday 12th January, 3pm
EvoStik League, Premier Division
A 78th minute penalty leveller denied Matlock all three points from a scrappy encounter at The Meres against Grantham Town.
Although the Gingerbreads enjoyed more possession, Matlock did not look in any real strife until five minutes before the equaliser when Rhys Lewis skimmed the bar from distance.
But Micky Harcourt (left), caught Gary King with a mistimed challenge to receive a booking and there was no real doubt either about the validity of the award, or the finish for that matter.
King blasted a ferocious penalty past Kennedy who, even if he had managed to get any form of attempted block on it, probably would not have kept the ball out.
It was a game when yet again, Matlock did not make enough of their chances count.
Fielding the same starting line up that had beaten Worksop Town on New Years Day, they would have been hoping to inflict more pain on a struggling Gingerbreads outfit, without a league win in over two months.
It was Legends Day for the hosts, who were celebrating with members of their squad who reached the Third Round of the FA Cup against Middlesbrough forty years earlier.
If they were wanting to see a thriller, then they would have left disappointed.
It was a scrappy affair for the most part, the contest beginning quietly. Greg Smith got under a Sam Puriscoe cross from the right to head well over the bar in the 9th minute, Matlock replying two minutes later as Lewis McMahon shot weakly at goalkeeper Dan Haystead.
Matlock brought off Cecil Nyoni in the 28th minute, having been booked earlier for a clash with Kyle Dixon, with Lavell White taking over on the left flank.
King struck the bar with a 26th minute header, which would not have counted because of a raised offside flag, and there was a pattern of the hosts enjoying more of the play but Matlock having the better chances.
Haystead held a McMahon strike on the half hour before Daryl Thomas had a hat-trick of chances which all went astray.
White's shot was deflected to him on 32 minutes only for Thomas to shoot wildly over the bar and then two headers ought to have brought some reward, but he nodded too high and well wide when well placed on both occasions.
Smith placed a header wide for the hosts under pressure from Gladiators' Man of the Match, Oscar Radford, (left), who along with David Haggerty, was again excellent at the heart of the visitors defence.
The referee had added on three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half and James Ashmore used the time to volley in a tremendous finish, when Joe Leesley's cross from the left had been flicked on by a Grantham defender.
It really ought to have been a brace for Ashmore (left), as in the very next attack, he found himself in an identical position, only to crash his shot over the bar.
Matlock needed a second goal and might have got it on 51 minutes when Thomas surged down the right but his teasing low cross eluded everyone.
A tame McMahon effort brought a disappointing end to another promising situation as Matlock looked comfortable.
Grantham offered little in terms of penetration until the shot from Lewis and the penalty leveler which looked as if it would mean an uncomfortable final ten minutes for the visitors.
A low cross from Ashmore was inviting to be finished off but nobody in yellow had gambled, meaning the points were shared.
At least the Gladiators losing streak on the road had ended at the seventh time of asking in cup and league, but again the feeling was that valuable points had been dropped because of Matlock's inability to convert their chances.
1 Dan Haystead, 2 Sam Puriscoe, 3 Lee Ridley, 4 Deon Meikle, 5 Paul Lister,
6 Rhys Lewis, 7 Kyle Dixon (Kallum Smith 84), 8 Michael Towey,
9 Greg Smith, 10 Malachi Lavelle-Moore (Liam Motson 59), 11 Gary King
Subs not used: 12 Anton Foster, 15 Adrian Hawes, 16 Jack Millward
1 Jon Kennedy, 2 Micky Harcourt, 3 Joe`Leesley, 4 Martin Foster,
5 David Haggerty, 6 Oscar Radford, 7 Liam Needham, 8 James Ashmore,
9 Lewis McMahon, 10 Daryl Thomas, (14 Corey Gregory 86),
11 Cecil Nyoni (12 Lavell White 28)
REFEREE: N Smith (Bourne)
BEST GLADIATOR: Oscar Radford
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