Kendal Town 2, Matlock Town 1
Ben Hunter’s cracking 20-yard volley came just a minute from time so it proved insufficient to prevent the Gladiators going down to a narrow defeat at the Cosyseal Stadium on Saturday.
Kendal had built up a two goal advantage early in the second half when two quick strikes, one a belter and the other, covered in controversy, put them in control.
For Matlock it was an encouraging first-half display, and while not as effective after the interval, they made the long journey home reflecting that they were worth a point.
Harry Winter, a short term signing on a dual registration agreement with Blue Square North leaders Hyde, lined up in central midfield alongside Liam King following Steve Warne’s move to Belper and injuries keeping out both Gareth Davies and Kris Bowler.
The Gladiators also named two wingers with Ben Algar - pictured - back after injury and Craig Nelthorpe, having served a suspension.
It was 0-0 at half-time but the game changed on 49 minutes.
Nelthorpe met Algar’s pass to roll his shot against the inside of the post and then watch agonisingly as the ball rebounded into Dootson’s grasp.
The pain increased within 30 seconds as Kendal broke and Ashley Dunn pounced on to a loose ball 20 yards out to crack a fierce low drive beyond Kennedy’s dive.
Winter was booked for a foul on Ciaran Donnelly and Kendal soon doubled the lead to leave Matlock fuming.
Nelthorpe was being lectured by referee Corlett who had stopped play for a free kick, but while all this was happening home captain Mark Joseph rolled the ball to Rory Winters who shot low into the net.
It proved to be a clear and match-defining error from the official who continued to anger the visitors.
Micky Harcourt was sent sprawling when Wisdom tripped him from behind. A n obvious booking, or so it seemed, but Wisdom avoided the yellow card. Lukic was not as lucky when he held back Taylor. Matlock also were pulled back when they tried to take a free kick quickly, such was the inconsistency of the man in black.
TJ Nightingale came on for Holmes and forced Dootson to save his low shot which needed a touch more power.
Then Morris pulled a shot wide when well placed. Matlock were fighting hard, they were not as effective as earlier but the spirit was there and they deserved their goal.
Cramp had forced Algar off with 11 minutes left and his replacement Hunter volleyed superbly past Dootson from 20 yards.
It came a little too late though and it certainly deserved to count for more than a consolation.
So it’s just one win in nine league outings for the Gladiators who will now be watching over their shoulders in case the relegation haunted clubs mount a recovery.
The performance at Kendal suggests though that they should have enough in their locker to avoid any relegation scares. The sooner they can string a win or three together though, the better.
Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, King, Yates, Lukic, Algar (Hunter 79), Winter, Holmes (Nightingale 63), Morris, Nelthorpe. Other subs: Witcombe, Bibby, Buxton.