REPORT: Stourbridge 4-1 Matlock Town
The scoreline might suggest a thrashing for Matlock, but it does not tell the whole story from an entertaining evening's football at the bitterly cold War Memorial Ground.
Stourbridge secured their seventh league win on the trot, but the Gladiators certainly played their part and the size of the defeat was harsh on the visitors.
The difference was the two forward lines. The Glassboys were clinical in front of goal whereas Matlock needed an extra final pass which more often than not was faulty allowing the hard working hosts to clear the danger.
Over elaboration was a problem for Matlock in deeper areas also. There are times to play and times to move the ball via the direct route, Matlock were punished for taking the option.
All things considered though, it was a much better performance than in the abject loss to Stamford nine days earlier.
Matlock made a bright start with Niall McManus stretching but unsuccessfully connecting with a cross from Nicky Travis who was impressive in the Town engine room.
Then McManus made inroads on the left to find Dawes who pulled a low shot wide, shortly before a fine interception from Christian Green halted Liam Needham who ran on to Danny Holland’s flick.
A low drive from Chris Lait bobbled harmlessly wide in the hosts’ first attack of note on 12 minutes but Lait broke the deadlock in deadly fashion two minutes later. The experienced Karl Hawley fed the winger superbly and a fierce low strike sizzled past George Willis at his near post.
Worse to follow for Matlock nine minutes later as Ted Cribley lost possession in midfield and full-back Green was on hand to latch on to Justin Richards’ pass and shoot home low off the inside of the post.
Matlock’s response was positive and a fine flowing move started by McManus and continued by Cribley and Holland saw the ball reach Travis whose low shot was pushed out by Matthew Gould at full stretch. Then Holland had a half chance that he hooked over the bar.
Stourbridge instantly were threatening at the other end as Willis stretched every sinew to tip over a Hawley strike with Joe Hull’s header from the corner rebounding off a post.
Matlock needed a strong start to the second-half but their hopes of a comeback disappeared within only seven minutes when Matt Dodd cut in from the left and went down under Micky Harcourt’s challenge, the defender being booked for his protests before Dodd clinically stroked home the spot kick.
Holland missed a fine chance to reduce the arrears on 56 minutes, Cribley’s pass seeing him clear of the Home defence only to fire narrowly wide in a one-on-one with Gould.
McManus volleyed wide from Cribley’s deep cross but Stourbridge added a fourth goal on 72 minutes when Matlock gave the ball away in midfield and Dodd advanced down the right to slip a pass inside for Leon Broadhurst whose finish comprehensively beat Willis.
Substitute Joel Purkiss turned neatly to fire into the sidenetting before with three minutes left the Gladiators at last found the scoresheet, Needham bundling in a scrappy effort from close range, but it was too little, too late.
Stourbridge: Gould, Green (Smikle 69), Scarr, Geddes, Hull, Pierpont, Dodd, Broadhurst, Hawley (Singh 78), Richards, Lait (Vincent 69). Subs not used: Billingham, Whittall.
Matlock: Willis, Paling, Gaughan, Travis, Harcourt, Burgin, Cribley, Needham, McManus, Holland (Purkiss 60), Dawes (Orrell 60). Subs not used: Laister, Wilkinson, Brown.
Ref: R Dadley
Best Gladiator: Nicky Travis