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Matlock Town slipped to their second defeat in a row as they suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Morpeth Town in the NPL Premier Division last weekend. A first-half wonder strike from Liam Noble and an early second-half own goal from Ioan Evans condemned the Gladiators to defeat in Northumberland. Matlock had the first big opportunity of the game after just eight minutes played. An excellent corner from Alex Byrne found centre-half Ioan Evans but his close-range effort was well saved by Dan Lowson in between the sticks. It was the hosts though that took the lead from out of nowhere in the 26th minute with their first shot on target. Midfielder Liam Noble wasn't closed down quickly enough and was allowed time and space to attempt an ambitious effort from just over 25 yards out. Noble's gamble paid off handsomely as his strike hit the sweet spot and beat Jim Pollard to find the back of the net in style and give the hosts the lead. Matlock really should have found themselves on level terms before half-time and will still be kicking themselves for not doing so. Five minutes after the deadlock was broken, Gladiators striker Jake Day had plenty of time to take a touch and advance even closer towards goal following an excellent left-wing delivery from Jordan Barnett. For some reason though, Day decided to strike on the volley as soon as the ball fell to him with nobody marking him. He mistimed his connection and the ball rolled disappointingly straight to Morpeth's keeper. The next few minutes saw Matlock's best spell of pressure in the whole game. Unfortunately, a lack of composure in the final third came back to haunt them once again. After 33 minutes, Jorome Slew managed to break down the left-wing. He passed to Barnett on the by-line who then dragged the ball back to feed midfielder Alex Wiles in a very promising position from 15 yards out. His effort was struck well but the Highwaymen defence made an outstanding block to deny the Gladiators from grabbing an equaliser. From the following corner, Jamie Sharman saw his headed effort scrambled and cleared away just in front of the goal line. Matlock's best opportunity of the whole match fell in the 39th minute when Gladiators skipper Ryan Qualter somehow headed over the bar from just eight yards out with nobody marking him following another excellent corner delivery from Byrne. The hosts came extremely close to doubling their lead a minute before the interval. Jack Foalle's headed effort across the face of goal went past the outside of the post by mere inches.

The second half continued in the same vein. The Gladiators had a couple of half-chances within the first five minutes after the re-start. Ioan Evans's header from 12 yards out was straight at Dan Lowson after Alex Byrne's excellent right-wing delivery. Two minutes later, Jordan Barnett steered his header wide from the edge of the penalty area after yet another cross from Byrne. It was Morpeth though that found another goal after 53 minutes played. A goalmouth scramble ensued following a corner and the ball was inadvertently put into his own net from Ioan Evans to give Morpeth a 2-0 lead. Matlock's best opportunity of the second half arrived in the 67th minute. The hard-working Callum Chippendale was almost rewarded when his close-range header from inside a packed penalty area was superbly tipped onto the bar by Dan Lowson. Ben Ramsey should really have extended Morpeth's lead even further when his close range free header following a counter attack somehow went wide of the post. Matlock's final opportunity to get something from the game was from a free-kick in an excellent position from 22 yards out. Unfortunately, Byrne's effort just whistled past the post which summed up the game for the Gladiators in a nutshell. Matlock Town team: Pollard, Sharman, Barnett, Evans, Qualter (c), Lees (Lenighan 57), Byrne, Wiles, Day (Potts 57), Slew (Higgins 78), Chippendale. Unused subs: De Girolamo, Blakeley. Attendance: 431 Paul Phillips Quotes: "I thought we created the most chances in the first half. I thought we did really well in the first half. A bit like deja vu from the Tuesday night game at Radcliffe. We had two or three gilt-edged chances but didn't take them. Morpeth's first goal was again very similar to Radcliffe's opener from earlier in the week. The second goal was totally out of character from ourselves...we're just not good enough up front at this moment in time. We're not clicking. I thought that Chippendale, when he went up there, looked more likely to score and cause problems. We need players to take the burden off Jake Day and Jorome Slew a little bit. We had enough chances in the first-half to get something from this game. If we could get international clearance sorted with Leigh Whelan and Kallan Murphy, then we can change our forward line but we can't do that right now. I thought Chippendale was outstanding, Wiles did really well. I know it sounds daft after the scoreline, but I don't think the back three put a foot wrong. We've been bitten on the backside today. The subs I brought on today did not affect the game, which is not good enough for this football club. We need a quick answer, we need more mobility and we need more robustness in the final third at places like this. Their defence bossed our forward line today." "My problem is that when I look behind me when I want to change the game, I've not got a centre-forward in the ilk of Jake Day to bring on. Kallan Murphy is that player but he's unavailable right now. The same goes for Leigh Whelan when I'm looking to take the burden off players like Chippendale in midfield. We're just lacking those options it's not been a good start to the season, but we'll make it right." "We've got to regroup and pick ourselves up. Get people in that we know we want to go forward with and we move onto Stalybridge."

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