Updated: Oct 21, 2019
The Gladiators succumbed to a fifth defeat in their last six matches following a 1-0 defeat at the Neuven Stadium in the Northern Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
A 48th minute close-range strike from Liam Ellis proved to be the difference as Steve Kittrick bemoaned a poor performance from the Gladiators.
The first half was a very scrappy affair. Jon Stewart was called into action twice to make two outstanding saves but apart from that there was very little action to report on as both teams struggled to find any sort of rhythm to their play.
Stewart’s first excellent save arrived early on in the match when in the 5th minute he made a superb diving stop to his left to deny a close-range header from around eight yards out.
The Matlock shot-stopper went one better in the 19th minute when he dived full stretch to his left to claw out another close-range header when a goal seemed an absolute certainty. This was the second game in a row where Stewart has pulled off some legitimate world-class saves to keep Matlock Town in a match.
There was very little else to report on in a dull first half encounter. Bailey Gooda and Dwayne Wiley were once again very solid at the back and cleared any sense of danger away comfortably throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Luke Dean had a couple of attempts from around twenty yards out which were deflected for corners which led to nothing as Matlock continue to struggle with attacking corner-kicks.
Winger Dan Bramall had a couple of encouraging surging runs down the left flank but the end deliveries were disappointing and either went out of play or went straight to the opposition.
There was admittedly a big shout for a Matlock penalty in the 28th minute when a Radciffe defender did appear to have handled the ball inside the penalty area. The Matlock players appealed strongly to the referee for a penalty to be given but the referee waved away their arguments.
It was a case of déjà vu for Matlock Town when it came to the opening ten minutes of the second half. Once again this season, the Gladiators were completely switched off in the opening stages of the second half and they once again paid the price for it.
In the 48th minute, Stewart made another good save as he rushed out for a one-on-one situation. However, the ball diverted off Stewart straight into the path of a completely unmarked Liam Ellis from eight yards out. With Stewart stranded, Ellis simply had to beat Dwayne Wiley’s last-ditch defending on the goal-line and he hammered home with no trouble whatsoever.
The hope was that this would be the spark to kick the Gladiators into action but what followed was a very subdued and disappointing performance. The away side did not register a single shot on target all game as Luke Hinsley was often isolated up front without the normal presence of suspended Marcus Marshall to partner him. Chib Chilaka came on in the 68th minute to make his Matlock debut up front to partner Hinsley but unfortunately could not get involved heavily in the game.
Radcliffe were by far the better team in the second half and should really have won by more than a one goal margin. Stewart made another excellent save from Sinclair in the 58th minute before Radcliffe then missed two glorious chances to head home and double their advantage.
Substitute Matty Wolfenden should have done better in the 73rd minute when his header from a lovely left-wing cross went wide of the post from six yards out and then Rick Smith somehow managed to miss the target altogether with a header from the exact same position but this time from a corner.
Matlock’s first registered attempt at scoring finally arrived in the 79th minute when on-loan Sam Scrivens somehow managed to blaze a close-range strike way over the bar.
Their best effort fell in the 88th minute when Luke Hinsley finally found himself with some space in the final third but his header from 12 yards out disappointingly rolled wide of the post.
The Gladiators’s game was perfectly summed up in the final seconds of injury time when Jordan Sinnott’s free-kick from 20 yards out literally saw the ball flying out of the stadium altogether.
Matlock Town: Stewart, Lacey, Gordon, Yates (c), Gooda, Wiley, Scrivens, Dean, Hinsley, Harris (Sinnott 68), Bramall (Chilaka 68).
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Tague.
Steve Kittrick's Thoughts:
Steve Kittrick was clearly extremely disappointed in his post-match interview and was very honest in his assessment of the match. He referred immediately to yet another poor start to a second half.
“It’s ridiculous! It’s people’s unwillingness to work hard. I’m not a manager that goes shouting and bawling but they’re all grown men, they’ve got to deal with it and they’ve got to be better. It was an awful game, there wasn’t a lot of quality…it’s what’s under the left breast, isn’t it? That wanting to win and that desire and at the end of the day, some of my players didn’t have that today…I thought we were bang average today…we’ve got to change the attitude otherwise I’ll have to change some of the personnel.”
Kittrick was asked about the recent signing of striker Chib Chilaka and what kind of impact he’s expected to make at the club:
“He’s an experienced player, he’s had a bit of bad luck with where he’s gone before…he’s somebody that’s a good holding player, he’s fit, he’s strong and he just fetches something else and he puts a bit of pressure now on Marshy (Marcus Marshall) and Luke (Hinsley)”
Kittrick was asked at the end of his post-match interview about the next game which is an FA Trophy First Qualifying Round match away at eighth-tier Carlton Town next Saturday and whether he sees that as a welcome change or a bit of an unwanted interruption to get their league form back on track.
“I wish we were playing on Tuesday, but we’re not! We’ve got to bounce back, it’s going to be a tough game…they’re a good side, they’re top of their league. They’ll want us as a scalp, we’re going into it not playing particularly well at the moment but we’ve got to bounce back and we’ve got to get on with it. The playing staff I’ve got at the moment have got to stand up and be counted and if they don’t, then I’m going to have to make some changes.”