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MATLOCK'S POOR RUN OF FORM CONTINUES IN DEFEAT TO MICKLEOVER


Matlock Town's poor run of form continued over the weekend as they were beaten 2-1 by Mickleover at the Don Amott Arena in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. The defeat means the Gladiators have now only won one of their last nine games and they've now fallen seven points behind league leaders Buxton. Matlock got off to a promising start in the first ten minutes of the game. After only three minutes played, an excellent run from Marcus Marshall teed up Ross Hannah in an excellent position but his shot from inside the penalty area was deflected by a Mickleover defender to concede a corner. Alex Byrne saw his free kick land on the roof net after just five minutes played while Reece Kendall managed a decent header on target just two minutes later. Unfortunately, this game would prove to be yet another case of Matlock not taking their chances and paying the price for it. Mickleover almost took the lead after 21 minutes when they won a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Shaquille McDonald absolutely leathered the ball which narrowly flew past the post. Matlock didn't heed that warning though and found themselves 1-0 down just three minutes later. A quick breakaway had the Gladiators defence on the ropes and a close range effort was blocked by a defender just in front of the goal line. However, the rebound fell right into the path of veteran striker Stuart Beavon and he slotted the ball easily into the back of the net to give Mickleover the lead over their fellow Derbyshire opponents. Matlock's best chance of an equaliser fell in the 31st minute when some nice build-up play on the right wing resulted in an excellent Alex Byrne delivery from the by-line. The cross found the head of Reece Kendall but his header frustratingly rolled wide of the post. Shaquille McDonald posed the Matlock defence plenty of questions again in the 35th minute when an excellent run from the right wing brought him to the edge of the penalty area. However, his execution with his attempt at goal was poor and his effort rolled tamely out for a goal kick. When the half-time whistle blew, there was still certainly reason to believe that Matlock were far from out of it and could still gain at least a point on the road. Unfortunately, it was a lack-lustre performance in the second 45 minutes and it has to be said that Mickleover deserved the three points.





The Gladiators almost got off to the perfect start in the second half when Ryan Qualter's close range header was expertly tipped over the bar by the Sports goalkeeper in the 47th minute. Frustratingly though, this did not set the tone for the rest of the half and Matlock failed to build on this early pressure. Mickleover really should have doubled their advantage just before the hour mark when McDonald had the goal at his mercy following a quick counter-attack. Luckily for Matlock, goalkeeper Joe Young was once again in inspired form and produced an outstanding save to tip the ball onto the post and out for a corner kick. The Gladiators were left to rue a big opportunity midway through the second half. Reece Kendall was given some space inside the penalty area to fire in an effort but his shot was too close to Jonathan Hodge and he was able to palm the ball away for the Micklover defence to then clear from danger. It was on this breakaway that Mickleover found the killer second goal when William Radcliffe's excellent powerful header from 12 yards out beat Joe Young and found the back of the net. Matlock found a lifeline just two minutes later when the ball was bundled over the goal line after an almighty goalmouth scramble following a corner. Reece Kendall's header from Byrne's delivery bounced off the bar and rebounded towards a whole host of players packed like sardines in the six yard area. It's still very unclear as to who actually got the final touch to put the whole of the ball over the line with some initially thinking it was Ioan Evans but it might actually have to be classed as an own goal from the goalkeeper. It was an extremely messy and ugly goal but Matlock couldn't have cared less with the goal giving them a glimmer of hope at 2-1 down. Unfortunately for Matlock, it just wasn't meant to be. Despite an urgent final 15 minutes, no clear-cut chances arrived for the Gladiators. In fact, it was Mickleover who almost grabbed a third goal right at the end of the match when Stuart Beavon's smart lob over Joe Young fell just inches wide of the post. The full-time whistle marked another rough day at the office for Matlock Town. Manager Paul Phillips now has some big questions to ponder as to how to stop this poor run of form from ruining their chances of promotion altogether. Matlock Town team: Young, Sharman, Kendall, Evans, Qualter, Lees, Byrne (c), Wiles (Hawkridge 46), Hannah (Yates 76), Marshall (Uchegbulam 54), Chippendale. Unused subs: Daly, Webb-Foster. Attendance: 503 Paul Phillips Quotes: "I don't think we deserved anything from the game. I think if we had, it would have been a bonus because we just didn't start for the first 45 minutes. We probably actually had the better chances in the first half but it took us too long for us to work out and combat the system that they played. Again, I just thought that too many of our players weren't at the races today. This is four or five games now where we've not been where we should be. How do we get out of it? We've got to keep believing. We've got to keep pushing. We've got to show a bit of bottle and show a bit of willingness. The intensity wasn't there from us today in the first half. We're just not starting games well at the moment and we let Mickleover dictate play. We're not scoring enough goals...I blame suspensions, I blame players for not putting names on their shirts and I blame myself for maybe not acting as we should. We've got a lot of good players in there. We need to turn it round as a group. I was disappointed to hear a couple of comments from the supporters as we came off the pitch - there's nobody more hurt or disappointed than me. I believe we'll turn it around. We're still in the fight. Seven games to go. We've got to pick ourselves up and go again." "I think we just let Mickleover control the game for too long...if you don't take your chances, you don't take the games away. The better team won on the day. We put Reece Kendall up towards the end to win stuff and he won a fair few headers. I'd like nothing more than to start Jesurun Uchegbulam week in, week out. But his professionalism off the pitch has got to match his ability on it. We've seen what he can do but he's got to have a run of games. We may have to bring one or two people in because we're not scoring enough goals. We need to solve that problem." "I think we've got to have a look at bringing one or two more players in. For me, you've got to score goals at the right times and make sure you do the right things in the right areas - we're just not doing that." "I think a lack of confidence comes when you have a blip. So we've got to be brave and we've got to set the tempo. If I knew for certain why we had a lack of goals, we'd have more points now at this stage and we'd be pushing on. When you're near the top, teams will do their homework on us. You're no longer an unknown force. But that's when you find out the characters that you have in the squad. I'm sick of saying 'we go again' because we've not been going on for the past four or five weeks now - and that falls on my head as well. I'm the one who picks the team. I've been wanting a reaction from the players. I can't keep putting my arm around the players and telling them how good they are, when they haven't been. We've just got to be braver when you're in a lean spell like this. We've got to go back to basics and pick ourselves up next week." "I am confident we can still get promoted. Lots of teams are beating each other in this league. But we have to kick-start sooner rather than later. We can't rest on our laurels. We brought a good contingent of fans today and they're not getting their value for money at the moment. Everyone in the management team has a good look at ourselves this week and asking ourselves what we can do to get ourselves over the line and to where we want to be...we've still got a lot to play for yet today we looked like a team that had nothing to play for. We've got to have a right go - we don't want to implode and we've got to make sure we're in the right frame of mind for Scarborough which is a massive game."

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