REPORT: Matlock's 100% record ends at Hurst Cross

Matlock Town’s winning start to the season came to an end on Saturday afternoon as they drew 1-1 away at Ashton United.

Marcus Marshall’s second half equaliser did however ensure that the Gladiators remain at the top of the Northern Premier Division and with an unbeaten record.

The first half was a sloppy affair with both teams struggling to find a rhythm to their play but the match came alive in the second half. Despite Ashton being without a win this season, Matlock should feel satisfied that this was a hard-earned point away from home against a very determined outfit that missed a host of opportunities by the end of the match.

Matlock’s best chance of the first half was in the 7th minute. Sinnott, making his first start for the Gladiators, found space inside the penalty area where his shot was blocked and the ball fell to in-form Marcus Marshall. Marshall shot first time and on target but Ashton’s keeper, Jon Worsnop, made a decent point-blank save.

The first big goal scoring opportunity for the home side fell to the Robins in the 10th minute. Joshua Wilson found himself surging into the penalty area with only Jon Stewart to beat. Wilson picked his corner with conviction, but Stewart made a fantastic save to deny an early goal for Ashton.

The Robins took the lead however in the 42nd minute when Ashton were awarded a penalty. Joshua Wilson sent Stewart the wrong way to confidently convert from the spot, the second penalty the Gladiators have conceded in as many games.

The game certainly livened up in the second half though. In the 59th minute, Ashton had a glaring opportunity to double their lead. Jon Stewart continued his impressive start to the season with a couple of vital one-on-one blocks inside his penalty area. The ball diverted yet again to Ashton’s attack with Stewart stranded this time around. Incredibly, the shot this time around was denied by an absolutely superb goal-line clearance from Dwayne Wiley to the complete disbelief of everyone watching at Hurst Cross.

The Gladiators equalised in the 66th minute when Dan Bramall ran into space on the left wing and sent over a lovely cross which found Marcus Marshall free in the area. Marshall headed the ball home into the top right corner out of Worsnop’s reach to bag his third goal of the season.

Substitute Piteu Crouz almost gave Matlock the lead just two minutes afterwards when he cut through from the right wing and shot from just outside the area forcing a decent save Worsnop.

Matlock came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 83rd minute when skipper Adam Yates met a cross from the right wing from just outside the six yard area but his header somehow hit the post.

Three minutes later, The Robins had their own golden opportunity to take all three points right at the end of the match when a shot cannoned back off the cross-bar when the goal was at their mercy with Stewart out of position.

In the end, Matlock and Ashton shared a point each and the Gladiators will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season this coming Tuesday evening at home against Grantham Town.

The Gladiators have also kept their lead at the top of the table, just a point ahead of Hyde Units

Matlock Town: Stewart, Yates (C), Gordon, Lacey (Wright 63), Williamson, Wiley, Smith (Crouz 63), Harris, Marshall, Sinnott (Rawson 61), Bramall.

Unused subs: Tague, Morris.

Attendance: 202

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