Again this was a tale of Matlock being unable to take the few chances that came their way in a dour stalemate.
Both Matlock and Marine beed the X factor in the final third if they are to threaten the top five.
If anyone was to win it it was Matlock who twice struck the woodwork. Even the follow up efforts on both occasions wouldn’t go in!
The big positive for Matlock was the nil in the goals against column. They had leaked goals in recent matches but the composure was back in their defending and goalkeeper Jon Kennedy had an easy day.
The 7th minute could have changed the game. David Haggerty, a giant at both ends, headed against a post and Oscar Radford met the loose ball to shoot goal wards but hit a defender on the line. Had that gone in the 268 fans would have seen a far better game.
Thereafter it was a midfield struggle with the ball airborne for long periods. Composure was needed but all too often it deserted the players.
Danny Holland headed a Joe Leesley cross too high on 32 minutes before three minutes later there was a rare moment of skill and awareness as Corey Gregory found time in the box to nutmeg a defender only to shoot weakly allowing Mariners custodian Callum Williams to make a comfortable save.
Marine had just the two opportunities all afternoon, the first in the 40th minute when from a quickly taken free kick, Jamie Rainford controlled the ball superbly but could only fire directly into Kennedy’s hands when well placed.
Shaun Tuton inadvertently helped Marine out just before the hour. In trying to push home Micky Harcourt’s header from a corner he only succeeded in clearing the danger for the visitors.
As frustration crept in both sides ended up with players in the book. Lee Parle’s late challenge on Liam Needham was the first yellow card, then Joe Leesley followed him for a foul on Jonathan Goulding who reacted with a scrape down Leesley’s leg that went unpunished. Sam Barnes had also been fortunate that the officials failed to notice him kick out at Tuton earlier.
Lavell White nudged a Harcourt cross wide at the near post under typical pressure from Marine with Gregory having a penalty appeal turned down when his shot struck Sam Barnes on the arm.
Matlock went desperately close to snatching the extra points in the 80th minute when Haggerty struck the frame of the goal for the second time as he headed against the bar before Williams made a terrific save from Holland as Town’s top scorer tried to bundle in the rebound.
Then right at the death came Marine’s second chance when Rainford could only prod a long punt forward at Kennedy. Had that gone in , it would have been an injustice to Matlock, but also the Gladiators would have had no time to respond for just seconds later the full time whistle blew to bring a largely uninspiring affair to a conclusion.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Liam Needham 8 Corey Gregory (15 Daryl Thomas 79), 9 Danny Holland 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Lavell White Other subs : 12 James Ashmore 14 Lee Featherstone 17 Matty Leese
MARINE: 1 Callum Williams 2 Shaun Dowling 3 Louis Corrigan 4 Sam Barnes 5 John Shaw 6 Dale Wright 7 Jonathan Goulding 8 Lee Parle 9 Matty Devine 10 Jamie Rainford 11 Joe Fowler Subs-none used- 12 Tony Rendell 14 Danny Grannon 15 Robbie Lawton 16 Peter Cumiskey 17 Phil Brazier
REFEREE: D Bradshaw (Rotherham)
BEST GLADIATOR: David Haggerty