This was probably Matlock’s worst home performance all season as they succumbed to a Witton side battling to avoid relegation.
The difference between the sides, apart from Rob Bodie’s 40th minute winner, was the desire levels. It appeared as if Witton wanted the points more while Matlock merely went through the motions.
So the performance made a mockery of manager Mark Atkins’ pre-match challenge of asking his players to win their last six matches to end the season on a high.
And Atkins was clearly angry and upset with his team who were kept behind in the changing rooms long after the Witton players were enjoying their post-match refreshments in the Autoworld Lounge.
To balance things out, there haven’t been many unacceptable performances at the Autoworld Arena this season, this being only the Gladiators’ third loss on home soil.
It could and should have been different as a gilt-edged opportunity went begging in the 15th minute.
Lavell White sped past full-back Anthony Garner on the left to deliver a low cross which just needed pushing home but Matlock’s best striker of late, Shaun Tuton, amazingly scooped his shot over the bar from inside the six yard box.
Witton fans were thinking then it was going to be their day and so it proved.
Matlock never created another decent chance of note and it was Witton who were knocking on the door before they eventually scored.
In only the second minute a neat move from the visitors saw Alex Titchener and Ross Davidson link well to feed Danny Andrews whose 12-yard shot cleared the bar.
Ambitious shouts for a penalty were turned down when Oscar Radford blocked a shot from Scott Bakkor on 26 minutes, three minutes after White had headed a Martin Foster cross tamely wide at the other end.
James Ashmore, deputising at full-back in place of the unavailable Adam Yates, did well to block from Andrews before former Witton goalkeeper Jon Kennedy pushed away a low strike from Titchener.
When the goal arrived it was a terrible one to concede as from a right wing corner, Bodie was unchallenged to head firmly home.
The second-half had that end of season feel to it, although there was a half chance for the hosts immediately after the restart when Massiah McDonald, on his return, had an effort blocked and Radford headed gently towards goalkeeper Matthew Cooper.
Matlock never tested Cooper all afternoon and it was Albion who came closest to scoring when Kennedy pulled off a fine save from a Bodie header midway through the second-half.
McDonald was harshly booked for a foul on Jonathan Breeze with Witton picking up three yellow cards also for fouls with Gardner, Davidson and Breeze the culprits.
Late on McDonald, in a quiet return, combined with skipper Liam Needham but again the shot was charged down as a disappointing afternoon came to an unsatisfactory end, handing Witton a league double over Town following an identical scoreline in Northwich four months ago.
**For news of Wednesday’s local derby clash between Buxton and Matlock, played after the Mercury went to press, see www.matlockmercury.co.uk.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 James Ashmore 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 Oscar Radford 6 Jack Broadhead 7 Liam Needham 8 Corey Gregory (Cecil Nyoni 60) 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Lavell White Unused subs: Alex Bradshaw, Daryll Thoams, Matty Leese
Witton: 1 Matt Cooper 2 Anthony Gardner 3 Ally Brown 4 Ben Harrison (Jonathan Dawson 12, Jonathan Breeze 31) 5 Rob Bodie 6 Ross Davidson 7 Josh Hancock 8 Anthony Sheehan (Martyn Jackson 70) 9 Scott Bakkor 10 Alex Titchener 11 Danny Andrews Unused subs: Michael Moseley, Calum Burleigh
Att: 270 Ref: D Bourne Best Gladiator: Jon Kennedy
Report by Ian Richardson