Matlock Town slipped one place to 17th in the Northern Premier Division after losing 1-0 at home to Basford United.
Matt Thornhill’s lovely first half effort was the difference between the two sides as Steve Kittrick was left to reflect on what could have been after Spencer Harris smashed his second half penalty off the crossbar.
The performance was certainly an improvement on what was displayed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day but the Gladiators were once again left to bemoan a lack of cutting edge and clinical finishing in the final third.
The first big opportunity of the match fell in the tenth minute when the recalled Piteu Crouz weaved his way from the left wing into a crowded penalty area. His effort flashed past Kieran Preston in net but was hooked off the goal line by the impressive Stefan Galinski. Sam Scrivens went in for the rebound but his attempt was well blocked.
Basford’s big opportunity arrived in the 21st minute when Kane Richards found space for a close-range header. His header lacked conviction though and it was an easy save for Jon Stewart to make.
Basford took the lead in the 38th minute when their skipper Thornhill ran onto a superb defence-splitting through ball from James Reid and smartly lobbed the ball over an advancing Stewart from twelve yards out.
The Gladiators played some nice football whenever they attacked via the flanks but this didn’t happen often enough and their tendency to go direct lead to a lack of possession in the opening 45 minutes.
Matlock were certainly the better team in the second half though and will feel hard done by that they didn’t at least gain a point from this game. The crucial moment of the match arrived in the 53rd minute when Matlock were awarded a penalty after Tomas Poole was tripped and brought down inside the area. Spencer Harris, normally a very reliable penalty taker, stepped up confidently to take the spot kick but his effort crashed off the cross bar and Basford were able to clear the ball away from danger.
The remainder of the half saw Matlock in far more possession of the ball and Basford sitting further and further back. While there wasn’t many clear-cut chances in the whole game, the Gladiators pushed hard to get back onto level terms and were constantly thwarted by a strong, organised Basford defence that blocked any effort before it could trouble the keeper.
Substitute Courey Grantham almost sealed the three points for Basford with ten minutes remaining when his shot from the edge of the area flashed just wide of the post after a counter-attack. Matlock’s last opportunity for an equaliser fell with five minutes to go when Bailey Gooda met a corner delivered from the left wing but his header agonisingly flew just over the bar.
Matlock Town: Stewart, Yates (c), Gordon, Dean, Harris, Gooda, Hinsley, Poole, Marshall (Rea 79), Scrivens, Crouz (Chilaka 73).
Unused Substitutes: Bramall, Tague, Sinnott.
Steve Kittrick Quotes
“I thought the performance was a lot better than what we’ve been having in recent weeks but goals change games, don’t they? We miss a penalty and that’s given them another spring in their step. We’ve hit the post, we’ve hit the cross bar, I don’t know what else we can do to win, I just think the luck’s not there for us at the moment so we’ve got to dig in but the performance was a lot better and I thought in the second half, we were going to be the team to win it. The penalty just changed everything…I thought we would have pushed on (had the penalty been converted) we’re not having the best of luck at the moment and we’ve just got to get on with it. I said to them there that the performance and effort was a million times better than what we’ve had in recent weeks.”
Kittrick was then asked what the message is at the moment in regards to their slide down the league table:
“I think the results will come, nobody’s turning us over and making us look stupid. We’re getting beat by the odd goal, there’s only been one team that’s really turned us over. It’s all about just getting that goal, that bit of luck…it was just unlucky today. Spencer’s gutted in there after missing the penalty but I said you can’t do anything about it. When your luck’s down, your luck’s down...everyone’s got to stay together, not get nervous, there’s half the season still to go…sometimes fans shouting silly comments, they weren’t saying that about me and those same players earlier on in the season, they need to respect what’s happening, you can’t fault anyone’s effort from 1-17 today.”
Kittrick was also asked about the approach to the next game which is the huge FA Trophy clash away at Eastleigh:
“I don’t think anybody is expecting us to go down to Eastleigh and come away with anything but we’ve got to prepare right, build from how we performed today…and we’ll see where we go with it. We’re not just there to make the numbers up, we’re going to go there to hopefully get a result or at least fetch them back here on Tuesday but hopefully we can get through to the next round of the cup.”