REPORT: Gladiators pay the price for poor performance

It was an extremely disappointing start to 2020 for Matlock Town as they lost 2-1 away at Gainsborough Trinity in the Northern Premier Division.

Dan Bramall looked to have given the Gladiators an undeserved reprieve in the 80th minute when his close-range shot found the back of the net for an equaliser but Gainsborough took the lead again almost immediately afterwards.

It was a game in which Matlock Town never got going and showed a worrying lack of desire throughout the match. Trinity’s captain Simon Russell fired an early warning when his shot from just inside the area flashed wide of the post after only four minutes. Matlock’s only real opportunity in the first half fell in the 13th minute when a lovely surging run down the left wing from Marcus Marshall took him to the by-line. His pass found a completely unmarked Jordan Sinnott from 12 yards out but his attempt showed no composure whatsoever and the ball ended up flying out of the stadium altogether when he really should have been hitting the target. The shot summed up Matlock’s performance pretty well.

Gainsborough took the lead in the 24th minute when Gregg Smith was allowed far too much time and space from eight yards out to head home a right wing cross. It was a good header from the Trinity striker but it was a gift due to Matlock’s poor marking and this was a worrying continuation of the defensive errors that lead to their Boxing Day defeat. All in all, it was a pretty drab first half in where the only shot on target was the goal from Smith.

The second half did not make good viewing for Matlock fans. Gainsborough improved on their first half display whereas the Gladiators plodded along and showed very little invention and threat in the final third. In the 49th minute, Nathan Stainfield met a corner with a strong header which forced a good outstretched save from the returning Jon Stewart. Stewart kept the Gladiators in contention once again when he denied former Matlock player Curtis Morrison in the 66th minute when the forward was in a one on one situation with just the keeper to beat.

Gainsborough came very close to doubling their lead in the 79th minute when Declan Bacon ran onto a defence-splitting through ball and his attempt from 18 yards out just squeaked wide of the post.

The Gladiators somehow ended up with an equaliser though just a minute later. Bramall, who had earlier come on as a substitute for the injured Tomas Poole, met a right-wing delivery and volleyed home from ten yards out. Given the situation and considering Trinity’s struggling position in the league table, you’d have been forgiven for expecting that the last ten minutes would have been an onslaught from Matlock against a Gainsborough defence nervously sitting further and further back.

Frustratingly for Steve Kittrick, this was not the case. In the 82nd minute, Stewart made an excellent outstretched save. The Matlock defence had opportunities to clear their lines straight afterwards but they failed to do so. The ball ended up falling to substitute Mitchell Dunne who smartly slotted home from 12 yards out and handed Trinity their winner.

The Gladiators only had one attempt at goal after going down 2-1. This came in the first minute of injury time when Marshall’s pass from the by-line found Luke Dean twelve yards out but his shot flashed agonisingly wide of the post.

After the first four games of this league campaign, Matlock picked up twelve points. From game five onwards, the Gladiators have picked up only the exact same amount of points and this will be a statistic which must concern Steve Kittrick.

Matlock Town: Stewart, Yates (c), Gordon, Dean, Harris, Gooda, Scrivens, Hinsley, Marshall, Sinnott (Chilaka 46), Poole (Bramall 37).

Unused Substitutes: Wallis, Crouz, Tague.

Attendance: 613


Steve Kittrick Thoughts

Steve Kittrick was understandably frustrated after the match:

“I thought we huffed and puffed in the first half, I thought in the second half, up to us scoring they never got out of their own half, I thought we did well to get back into it, but it’s mistakes that are killing us and we’ve got to get rid of these mistakes and it’s extremely frustrating. We’ve got midfield players playing centre-half, a centre-half having to play right-back, so it’s a makeshift defence but we should be able to clear our lines – clear our lines and we’ve got a point today and we’re happy…you can only say things so many times, if you keep making mistakes you get punished.”

Kittrick was then asked about the injuries to Tomas Poole and Dwayne Wiley:

Poole – “I don’t know, it’s an injury on his calf, so we’ll have to see how that is. He didn’t feel comfortable with it and there’s no point pushing it if he’s not right with it.”

Wiley – “He’ll probably be away for another couple of weeks, he’s a big miss, a good player, I don’t think that first goal conceded goes in if he was playing, he’d come and win it. But it is what it is, we are where we are, we’ve got to get on with it, nobody’s throwing the towel in, the lads are deflated…but its individual mistakes that are costing us and it’s just extremely frustrating.”

The Gladiators boss was then asked about what the target is for the rest of the season and how concerned he is about the team’s rapid decline in league form:

“The target is just to start winning some games again and let’s see where it takes us. We’re having to change the personnel all the time and teams have it where you get injuries and players are having to play in not the usual position…its football, isn’t it? I don’t know what you want me to say really…we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to dig in, we’ve got to get it right and get out of this little bit of a situation we’ve put ourselves in…as a manager, you’ve got to believe in your own ability…but the individual mistakes that players are making is just soul-destroying…I don’t even look at that (the relegation spots in the table) we don’t want to get dragged into it…if we stick together, we’ll turn it around, I’m sure we will, but it is extremely frustrating at the moment.”

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