Matlock Town FC
Ground Number: 307
Wednesday 16th October 2013
Matlock Town 2-1 Barwell
NPL Premier Division
After leaving the Farsley game, I had decided to visit a couple of grounds on the way to my next game. First up was Shaw Lane Aquaforce who play in the NCEL Division 1. They had won the Sheffield and Hallamshire League last season and gained promotion, although there was doubts over whether they would be accepted due to their ground, at least that's what I read on a forum anyway. So I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised to find a really modern and smart venue. The stand was of a smart design too, not one of those pre fab metal ones that are so popular nowadays. The ground was part of a huge sports complex and is shared with the local rugby club.
Next stop was a few miles away at Worsborough Bridge Athletic, a club that I learned later was where Wycombe signed a player called Kevin Day from in the 1980's. That was way before my time supporting Wycombe, but I recall seeing his name in some old programmes. Anyway, they play at the same level as Shaw Lane and their ground is a lot older, put it still has decent facilities and is set in pretty green surroundings.
It was by now approaching 5PM, and so I set my Sat Nav for Worksop Town (using a file I got off of a non league forum a few years back) I thought it was a bit further than indicated and was surprised when I was directed past the Worksop turn off on the M1 and made to travel for another 20 miles down the motorway. I thought it might be due to the heavy traffic that was on the slip road and that I was being sent a different way round. I first thought something was up when I turned off at the junction and it was for Mansfield and Hucknall. I then had a horrible feeling - I did remember that Worksop shared at Hucknall a few years back and pulled over at the next safe point to investigate further. My fears were then confirmed. The file was around 4 years old had indeed sent me to Hucknall. So instead of going to Worksop Town v Stafford Rangers, I decided to find an alternative. I looked at the nearest grounds to me, and after consulting my non league paper and double checking on the internet to make sure it was still on, I opted for Matlock Town v Barwell.
It was actually a blessing in disguise. It had been under consideration for the night, but the extra mileage needed had put it to the back of my mind. Then a few days before, Seb, the mate who I was supposed to be meeting at Worksop, had to go down to Birmingham and would miss the match. I was still pressing ahead though, as I had wanted to go to Worksop for a while, due to the decent programme shop and a decent pub nearby. But it would be better to do it with a mate, and Matlock was another that I had fancied for a while. On the way I listened to Football Heaven on Radio Sheffield and as ever it was great listening, even though I don't have any strong allegiance to either of the City's sides. I even heard my mate Mick The Owl on there having some of his messages read out.
I arrived just before 7 and parked up nearby. I was surprised to see that the ground was right in the town centre, but I found free parking easily enough. I had actually been to the ground, sometime around 1993 to take photos while on a family holiday to the Peak District and I remember the delightful entrance to the ground which is still there thankfully. In fact only one side had changed since my last visit and it had given the ground a great facelift and better facilities, while not spoiling the old charm in any way. The old stand is pictured above. After paying to get in and purchasing a programme, I went in the club shop and got myself a pen. Even though I had chips and gravy in a chippy before going into the ground, I was still hungry and so bought myself a sausage roll from the tea bar, which was great value and very tasty at £1.30.
I'd never seen Matlock play before, but had visited Barwell recently and seen their 1-1 draw with Stamford. The visitors were in mid table whilst Matlock were just on the fringes of the playoffs in 7th place. Tonights game was enjoyable as well, and got an interesting write up on the Matlock Town website....
Matlock “won ugly” according to manager Mark Atkins against a physical Barwell side given licence to use bullying tactics by a weak referee.
But at the end of the day a win is a win and the Gladiators dug deep showing tremendous resolve to earn their fourth league win on the bounce.
The Leicestershire side luckily finished with eleven players on the field, given that defender Guy Hadland might have been red carded for pulling back Danny Holland who looked to have a clear route to goal and goalkeeper Liam Castle prevented a back pass from finding the target through a clear handball which was later followed by him taking down Holland in full flight. Then at the death a stray elbow from substitute Oliver Brown-Hill caught Adam Yates in the face earning the culprit only a booking.
But the strong arm tactics failed to deter Matlock from earning another excellent three points which saw them return to fourth spot in the table after slipping to seventh after the previous night’s results.
The back pass incident came in the 5th minute when Scott Lower overhit his delivery forcing Castle to dive low to push the ball clear with his left paw. More controversy followed as the alert Darryl Thomas rolled a short pass to Corey Gregory to fire into an empty net. But the “goal” was ruled out as referee Joe Hull ruled it had been taken from the wrong place. Barwell got lucky as James AshmoreLiam then blasted his shot into the big wall Barwell formed to avert the danger.
The accurate long ball over a static Barwell defence was offering Matlock great encouragement but from a shorter pass by Holland fed Thomas but Castle was out quickly to hack clear. Then Holland was on to a throw from the right to turn and screw a low left footer wide.
When Hadland received a yellow card for pulling back Holland instead of the red the home crowd were baying for, it led to the Gladiators securing a 15th minute lead. A thunderous thirty yard free kick from MICKY HARCOURT took a wicked deflection and Castle was well beaten.
The lead lasted just three minutes as a hasty trip by Gregory on Daniel Spencer gave the man in black a relatively easy decision to award a spot kick. LUKE BARLONE smashed a power packed shot down the middle.
That setback knocked Matlock back somewhat as despite the best efforts of outstanding skipper Needham, Barwell began to get a grip of the midfield but without threatening goalkeeper Jon Kennedy from the final third.
Castle received a yellow card for hauling down Holland a yard outside the box in the 33rd minute, this time the free kick from Harcourt being blocked at the expense of a corner. But it was Matlock who fashioned the best chance of the half seven minutes later from the move of the night when Oscar Radford fed Holland who flicked a neat pass into Gregory only for the midfielder to lift his shot narrowly over the bar.
Needham retired with a foot injury in the opening minute of the second half to bring on Anton Foster. Almost immediately Thomas chased down a back pass to block Castle’s clearance, the ball ricocheting fiercely past a post.
But THOMAS would be the match winner on 53 minutes as Holland did well to rob Richard Lavery, and break clear. Castle parried Holland’s drive but Thomas was following up to fire in the loose ball for his tenth goal of the season.
Castle looked a bag of nerves at times as one of a number of miskicks was seized upon by Thomas just three minutes later, the ball eventually squirming wide.
Radford was proving to be a star at both ends of the pitch and from a quickly taken throw on the hour he combined sweetly with Holland before Castle beat away his powerful drive.
Barwell went direct as they began to exert some pressure on a Matlock defence in which David Haggerty and Adam Yates were outstanding in the centre. But for all of their pressure, Kennedy was only tested once, three minutes from time when Spencer forced him to drop quickly on an angled drive from the left. Earlier Ashmore had been well placed to hack clear from a Lavery header.
Castle was nearly embarrassed on 79 minutes when on one of his regular jaunts off his line, Holland tried his luck from forty five yards, but was denied a spectacular goal as he was just a yard wide of the upright.
The football wasn’t pretty at times, but having gone in front for a second time,, Matlock showed a steely determination not to concede again. Foster and visiting captain Scott Hadland were also booked as they clashed in midfield in what was a war of attrition at times.But Matlock won the battle to prove that bullies sometimes get their just desserts.
After the game I went back to my car, set the Sat Nav for home, which was a good 3 hours away. I knew I would claw back some time but it wasn't helped when part of the M1 was closed and I had to take a big diversion. Eventually though, I was back home by 12.30, having had a really nice few days away.
CAUSEWAY LANE is a great little gem, or 'ground porn' as some fellow groundhoppers call it. As you go in through the pretty entrance, there are 2 parts of the ground that have remained unchanged for years. To the right is a seated stand that runs the length of the pitch, and may have at one time been terracing. In front of you there is a covered terrace for those that prefer to stand behind the goal. The other end is not in use, as it has a cricket pitch. The one new side has an excellent new stand, as well as hosting the bat, tea bar and medical facilities, and the dressing rooms.
The bar is brand spanking new and well decorated, though I didn't drink on that occasion. The tea bar has a limited range but if the Sausage rolls are anything to go by, the food is of a good standard. And the club shop does old programmes as well as a decent range of club merchandise. As mentioned the town is nearby, making it well worth a visit.