Mickleover Sports 3, Matlock Town 1
2012 got off to the same start as 2011 with a poor Matlock performance and a depressing defeat at Mickleover Sports.
Quite simply if Matlock have any realistic hopes of progressing upwards from this division, then sides such as Sports need to be put in their place but the hosts showed a greater hunger throughout and could even afford to miss an early penalty as they won in relative comfort.
So in the end Matlock’s winless run was extended to eight league matches and exactly two months since they hammered Stocksbridge 4-0 at the Reynolds Stadium
What has gone wrong?
Injuries and suspensions have had some impact but on Monday Matlock had some leading protagonists back.
Confidence appears to have taken an almighty jolt, the free flowing football of eight or so weeks ago has disappeared.
Instead the ball is like a hot potato, and on Monday they were overpowered in midfield,
In short the Gladiators side now looks largely inrecognisable from the one which looked so hard to beat at the beginning of November.
Few positives can be taken from the Station Road debacle.
Early on Matlock surrendered possession all too easily and they should have gone behind in the seventh minute when a clumsy challenge from Adam Yates on livewire Kieran O’Connell brought about an easy penalty verdict for excellent referee David Naylor but Alex Steadman struck the post from the spot.
Danny Davidson failed to take advantage of a promising situation shortly afterwards with a wayward cross when clear of the Sports back line, but Sports always looked more potent and when O’Connell won a corner on the left, Danny Quinn headed over when well placed after the initial delivery had been tipped behind by Jon Kennedy.
Mickleover’s pressure paid off on 25 minutes when Yates stretched to clear another cross from O’Connell and Eric Graves followed up to shoot home.
On 39 minutes Lee Morris was in the right place to turn in a fierce King strike from close range which should have been the catalyst for a Gladiators revival.
But Quinn restored the lead for Sports in the 65th minute. Again O’Connell did the damage, his pace taking him clear up the left before setting up the on-loan Hednesford striker for a simple finish.
Two minutes later the game was as good as over. Kennedy, a model of consistency for virtually the whole of the campaign so far cleared straight into Quinn’s path and there was no let off as the number nine drove accurately home.
Sports deservedly gained three valuable points. It was not that difficult for them against a Matlock side not at the races and who let down the travelling support who made up at least half of the 420 crowd.
Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Radford, King, Yates, Lukic, Morris (Bibby 69), Warne (Whittington 66), Davidson (Hunter 30), Holmes, Davies. Other sub: Sollitt.