Matlock Town's problems in the final third continued on Tuesday evening as they were held to a second consecutive goalless draw by Radcliffe at The Proctor Cars Stadium. The result means that the Gladiators have won just once in their last 11 games and have worryingly only scored one goal in their last five home matches. Despite that, Matlock Town remain in third position in the Northern Premier League Premier Division with just five games to go and have actually extended their lead over sixth-placed Whitby Town to six points following their injury-time defeat at Stalybridge Celtic on the same night. This boosts Matlock's chances of at least securing a play-off place for this season. Unfortunately, this match was yet another case of the Matlock defence being as solid as a rock but the attack being nowhere near clinical enough which has led to more dropped points in this poor run of form. The Gladiators made a bright start to the game against Radcliffe. After just two minutes, Liam Hughes saw his effort flash narrowly past the post following a corner from Alex Byrne. Just two minutes later, another corner from the opposite flank found the head of the Gladiators captain but his close range effort was steered over the bar. Matlock came within a whisker of taking the lead in the 26th minute. Danny Greenfield's firm shot inside a packed penalty area inadvertently hit another Matlock player when it looked like it was heading into the goal. After a brief spell of pinball, a Radcliffe defender came to Boro's rescue as he cleared the ball away just a yard in front of the goal line. A good run from Jesurun Uchegbulam put him in an excellent position in the 34th minute as he cut inside Radcliffe's full-back to have a clear sight of goal inside the penalty area. Unfortunately, his shot lacked conviction and the Radcliffe goalkeeper was able to make a comfortable save. Radcliffe did have the ball in the net three minutes before half-time, but Jack Hindle was immediately ruled to be offside by the assistant referee.

It was a very quiet and scrappy first 15 minutes of the second half but the game soon kicked into life again on the hour mark when Alex Byrne's excellent delivery from the right wing found Callum Chippendale in a great position inside the box but his header disappointingly sailed over the bar when he should really have hit the target. Matlock Town came very close again to taking the lead midway through the second half in the 67th minute. A Matlock player was manhandled inside the penalty area but despite huge appeals from the Gladiators players, the referee did not award a penalty. Straight afterwards, Ioan Evans saw his headed effort from a corner cleared away by a Radcliffe defender just in front of the goal line with their goalkeeper well beaten. The Derbyshire outfit's best opportunity of the entire game fell with 12 minutes remaining. A long ball put Uchegbulam clean through on goal but his effort was blocked by the oncoming goalkeeper. The ball rebounded to substitute Ross Hannah with the goal at his mercy but he couldn't get the ball out from under his feet and once he was able to get the shot in, the close-range effort was blocked by a Boro defender. It was an immensely frustrating moment for the Gladiators. Matlock were almost left to pay severely for their missed opportunities when a long-range effort from Radcliffe with just six minutes to go flashed just inches wide of the post. The full-time whistle, realistically, marked the end to Matlock Town's title chances. The big question now is: can the Gladiators recover some form and start scoring some goals in the final five matches of the league campaign to secure a place in the play-offs? Matlock Town team: Young, Yates, Kendall, Evans, Qualter, Lees, Byrne (Hannah 74), Chippendale (Sharman 84), Hughes (c), Greenfield (Hawkridge 65), Uchegbulam: Unused subs: Coppin, Daly. Attendance: 444 Paul Phillips Quotes: "It's deja vu...we've had six chances in between the sticks in the first half. One's bounced on the line, a one-on-one in the first half that we've not taken the best of. Second half, we had a one-on-one and then an open net. I'm sick of trying to shuffle the pack to try and get and over-commit and rely on the lads at the back who again were magnificent. I thought we defended resolutely. We were asking them to do too much, which we have done for the last four or five games. Good teams score goals at the right times. Winning teams score goals at the right times. Mediocre teams are good all round but when it comes to that, that's what happens. For me, the mediocre category is where we fall into at this moment in time. We ended up with around seven attacking players on the pitch at the end of the game. We can't do any more as a management team. Someone said to me at the end of the game, that we can't score and it's not good enough - I can't disagree with that. How many times have we actually asked questions of their goalkeeper? We've got a few players missing but we created enough chances tonight. As a whole, I thought everything worked out. Played some good stuff on a pitch that was drying out and was hard to get the ball down on. We've got to be scoring goals - this has been the case for about the last 10-12 games. Look at our goal scoring ratio; it's not good enough. And that's down to me for not bringing the right people in to score them goals, so the buck falls on my toes. I've got to live with that." "This isn't down to a lack of confidence. We looked confident putting the ball in the box. We looked confident trying to win the headers. We're just not clinical enough. We can make excuses but we've just got to be clinical. Teams in this league have got players who have scored 15 to 20 goals. Witton Albion have got a player who's scored around 16-17 goals and they're around the bottom of the league. We have players who have scored 10 to 12 goals - and that's the difference...I feel sorry for them lads at the back." "I might play up front on Saturday! We've got to stay positive. We're not saying the lads aren't trying out there - what I'm saying is, we need players who are willing to get hurt to score goals and players are willing to get in the right positions. Not many teams can deal with our physical presence; but we're not making the most of it. I dragged Al Byrne off towards the end because he was knackered - but he's put seven or eight balls into the area - and we've just not made the most of it. But we have to stay positive. We're third in the league. I know it feels like we're third from bottom. Five games to play - 15 points to play for. Let's see where it takes us. But we have to be more ruthless to be where we need to be." "Things need to change. We've been over-patient. I think some of these lads think they've achieved something because we're third in the league. Some of these lads thought we'd achieved something by being top of the league for a while. There's no prizes given out for that. Things have got to change in the top part of the pitch. We've looked rudderless and it's got to change. I'm not going to stand still."

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