REPORT: League misery continues for the Gladiators

Matlock Town’s poor league form continued on Saturday afternoon as they lost 2-1 to Scarborough Athletic at the Flamingo Land Stadium in the Northern Premier League.

The Gladiators were fortunate to only be 2-0 down at half time. Nathan Valentine’s goal on his debut gave Matlock hope but Marcus Marshall’s red card really knocked the wind out of their sails and the Gladiators now find themselves in 19th position in the league.

The Seadogs completely dominated the first half and should have had the game sewn up after 45 minutes had passed. In complete contrast to Matlock’s first half performance against Basford United earlier in the week, the Gladiators did not register one single shot in the opening half of the game.

Scarborough almost took the lead after only five minutes when James Walshaw ran into the penalty area with only the keeper to beat but Jon Stewart closed down the angles well and blocked Walshaw’s attempt.

One minute later, the Seadogs won a free kick in an excellent position just outside the edge of the penalty area. Ryan Watson absolutely hammered his free kick on target but Stewart did extremely well to tip the ball around the post.

The pressure continued in the 17th minute when Walshaw somehow managed to direct his header wide of the post from 10 yards out after meeting an excellent right wing delivery.

The constant pressure was too much though for the Gladiators and Scarborough took the lead just a minute later when Josh Barrett was able to head home from 10 yards out after another excellent right wing cross.

Scarborough doubled their lead on the half hour mark when Walshaw tapped home from four yards out after an excellent run and pass into the area from the left wing by Michael Coulson.

The Seadogs almost went three goals up in the 41st minute when Coulson smashed in an effort on target after taking advantage of some poor marking but Stewart made an excellent save to somehow keep Matlock in contention at the halfway point.

Luke Dean and James Tague came on for Tom Poole and Jack Rea at the interval and the Gladiators finally started to work their way back into the game.

Matlock pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute when debutant Valentine headed home smartly from 12 yards out. The reply came somewhat out of the blue and Matlock finally started to show some sign of life in the final third.

The crucial moment of the half though arrived in the 65th minute. Marshall appeared to be about to receive a booking for a blatant and needless trip on the halfway line but an unsavoury gesture to the crowd as the referee approached him meant that the yellow returned to his pocket and out came the red card instead.

After the red card, the game petered out. Matlock’s best chance of an equaliser fell in the 75th minute when both Spencer Harris and Dean squeezed in shots inside the penalty area but these attempts were well blocked by an organised Seadogs defence.

Scarborough almost scored right at the death when Ryan Watson’s free kick from the edge of the penalty area forced another good save from Stewart who was easily Matlock’s best player of the afternoon.

In the end, it was another hugely frustrating afternoon for Matlock Town who just can’t seem to get going in the league and their slide down to 19th in the table is now a big cause for concern. Steve Kittrick and the players are well aware that if things don’t improve quickly, the second half of the season will be a battle to avoid relegation.

Matlock Town: Stewart, Poole (Dean 46), Gordon, Rea (Tague 46), Yates (c), Wiley, Valentine, Harris, Chilaka (Hinsley 72), Scrivens, Marshall.

Unused Substitutes: Gooda, Crouz.

Attendance: 1,083


Steve Kittrick Quotes

On the team’s performance:

“I didn’t think we turned up in the first half, we were just poor, we just looked to have no shape, nobody courageous on the ball, I can’t put my finger on it, but I thought in the second half when we changed it, I thought we looked a far better side, we scored and we’re back in it, I think if Marshy had stayed on we would have gone on and pushed on. I’m not happy because it’s just extremely frustrating…I don’t know what I can say that will satisfy anyone.”

On the team’s slide down the table and his position at the club:

“Of course I’m worried, it’s a results game. It’s alright winning cup games but we’ve got to start getting points on the board. Am I concerned? Yes, I am concerned. I’d be a fool not to be concerned. We need a couple of wins to get out of it and get us back up that table…I can’t do anything about it though, that’s down to the board as to what they want to do. The players are all behind what we are doing, they understand it’s a results game. I’m not putting myself under any pressure. I’ve never been in this situation but I’m honest and I’m fair and I’m hard working and I’ve always delivered what I’d say I’d do…so I’ve got to dig deep myself and get on with it like everyone else has. This is my team, nobody else’s team, players get managers sacked, don’t they? I don’t get myself sacked. I’m 110% behind what we’re doing, I just hope the club is going to be patient for us to get it right but if it happens it happens, I can’t do anything about it, I’ve just got to deal with it…I’ve told them I want to be here at the end of April and I want to get this team back to where it belongs but if other people at the club are thinking different then it’s out of my hands.”

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