Sunday, 21 November 2010

Matlock Town 1 – 2 Halifax Town; 16/11/10.


Turns out the Peak District has possibly the coldest weather in England. Cold but not numb in Leeds as I set off; cold but not numb as I arrived back at 11:15pm. 300 or so Shaymen going down Matlock way for a craic have experienced their first properly extremity-freezing match of the season, but all with good earnings.

Matlock fortunately have their ground, Causeway Lane, at a central location to their small town. A three-side ground extends into a cricket pitch, fenced off behind one goal for the more serious
sport. On one side a new stand proudly looks over the bobbly pitch, beside an unfinished clubhouse structure with good vantage. Behind the other goal is a mini-terrace with several poles which greatly impinge on your viewing, as I found when I could only tell the ball went in the Matlock net for the second time by the fan reaction. Another long stand-or-two spreads itself over the touchline parallel to Causeway Lane itself, is wooden, and both rickety and cricket-y. The new stand probably trumps the others as despite having to sit down, the vantage point is the best. Get involved here.

Ooh, shiny.

Unsurprisingly, the match was fast from the start. It was a compliment to us, despite edging it in play, when Deano skipped over a goalkeeper and defender that became entangled with each other to score into an open net from a tricky angle 14 minutes in. When Matlock attacked though, they attacked just as strongly. In one break Hedge ran out from his position and Matlock regained the ball. How many other defenders in this league would have cleared that effort from the six-yard box with a seal-like kick is unknown. We could have taken advantage of two easy close-range efforts (Holland skying it, Garner swiping at it) in the first half when Matlock weren't quite as strong, but the result's still fair and there for all to see.

 Drinking on the terraces? St Pauli? No, Matlock Town.

In the past year, Aspin's tactics have snuffed out the most dangerous strikers. Scott Barlow's tally? 0. Jordan Connerton's? 0. Michael Norton's? 0. Ross Hannah, Matlock's goalscorer of seven against Bedworth United last month, looked deadly every time he rampaged further than I've seen any opposition striker rampage this season. Despite this, he went to bed hungry on Tuesday night. One rifled shot in the second half and one very well-placed free kick (remember when our free kicks were well-placed?) were well-saved by Hedge and we have a decent enough defense for Matlock to be unable to do their worst.

Our second goal was a quick-footed Deano tap-in from a second Vardy assist where our reflexes beat those of the Matlock defense, but a two-goal lead didn't last too long as Lee Morris got one from the other side. This turned the final 35 minutes into a contest between us trying to finish them off and Matlock finding an equaliser. Though there were very few shots in it, play darted back and forth. Matlock didn't do themselves favours though, as Lee Featherstone reacted to Vardy's hard tackle by stamping on his ribcage. He didn't seem to understand his strength as he was sent off, and walked back to the changing rooms with a big smirk on his face. From now on if you hear the words "Lee Featherstone" you should immediately think "a threat to all that's good in football." Don't let him get away.

Even this didn't kill off Matlock's desire though, and the final whistle came as a relief when further goals could have gone either way, 50/50. It's odd to get to a ground through tiny Peak District B roads but an interesting experience to see a close, fought contest again. Whether it was well-fought isn't quite clear. The Gladiators lived up to their nickname but we weren't exactly saints.

This result makes it 10 wins in a row for the Shaymen.  30 points in 59 days. We could field a team full of the bastard children of Tom Harban and Cameron Jerome and still stay clear of relegation, let's put it that way.

 The Shaymen are starting to work well on uneven pitches.

Matlock 1 – 2 Halifax Town; att. 549
Ground: 6/10
Pitch: 5/10
Programme: N/A
Talent: zilch
Non-partisan entertainment: 8/10 


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