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UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Dyer (63)

Matlock Town

Barraclough (31), Holmes (41)

(0) 1

(2) 2



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Ross Dyer


North Ferriby United (H) 2.9.06

A poor first-half display from the Pitmen sees them crash to their second home defeat of the season this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon as Matlock Town move above Phil Starbuck's team in the league table after claiming all three points

Starbuck had been buoyed by two successive wins on the road at Grantham and Radcliffe and elected to stick with the same side that had won both games ahead of their return to Keys Park today

Matlock arrived in South Staffordshire off the back of a 2-0 win at home to North Ferriby United, leaving the Gladiators in seventh place in the UniBond Premier Lague ahead of today's first-ever visit to Keys Park. The joint management team of Phil Brown and Gareth Williams stuck with the same side that had won at the weekend as they looked for the win that could lift them into the play-off places if other results went their way

The visitors started the game well on a sunny but windy Bank Holiday afternoon in front of a healthy crowd and the dangerous Ian Barraclough had the first sight at goal in the fourth minute, firing into the side-netting after nipping in ahead of Ross Adams to get a toe onto a low cross from Richard Taylor

Ryan Young had earned his side three points at Radcliffe Borough at the weekend with a string of fine saves and made another good stop in the eleventh minute as he pushed a driven effort from Ian Holmes around the post for a Matlock corner

From the resultant flag-kick, Ryan Davis flicked the ball on at the near post before skipper James Lukic diverted the ball wide at the far post as he was put under pressure by home debutant Tom Groves

Marlon Walters had the Pitmen's first effort at goal in the fourteenth minute after some fine build-up play involving Martin Ridley, Ross Dyer and Iain Screaton but lifted his long-range effort over the crossbar

Walters gave the ball away cheaply for the Pitmen in the sixteenth minute, and in an attempt to wrestle the ball back from Gary Webster pulled the midfielder back to gift Matlock a free-kick in a dangerous position. A well-worked set-piece straight off the training ground saw Lukic and Webster set up Steve Warne, whose well-stuck shot from twenty yards out was turned away once more by Young

Four minutes later, Tom Franklin's forceful run saw the midfielder find Dyer, who in turn did well to slip the ball into the feet of strike partner Dave Whittaker. The former Leek Town man took a touch too many however and got the ball stuck under his feet and allowed Taylor to clear before he could get his shot away

On twenty-six minutes, Whittaker did get a shot away for the hosts as he was played into the penalty area by Screaton's fine threaded pass, but snatched at his shot somewhat and fired into the Hednesford supporters gathered behind the Matlock goal

After making a number of competent saves in the first half-hour of the game, Young then blotted his copybook as he handed the visitors the lead on thirty-one minutes. The stopper failed to get enough purchase on a cross from Kris Bowler, only succeeding in palming the ball onto the head of Simon Barraclough, who had the simple task of headed home at the far post with ease

Barraclough was involved again for the away side three minutes later as he played a neat one-two with Holmes before his strike partner sidestepped a challenge from Adams and drilled a low shot just wide of Young's right-hand post

Young redeemed himself somewhat on thirty-seven minutes as he saved well from Holmes after the striker had broken the flimsy Hednesford offside trap to get on the end of a pass from Lukic 

 Dyer was working hard up front for the Pitmen for very little reward but did force Matlock goalkeeper Andy Richmond into his first meaningful involvement in the game on forty-one minutes as he let fly from fully twenty-five yards, seeing Richmond make a fine smothering save


Richmond quickly booted the ball up the pitch and saw his ball collected by Holmes just outside the Hednesford penalty area. Lax defending from the Pitmen allowed the striker to turn past both Screaton and Danny Jellicoe before unleashing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the penalty area that gave Young no chance of getting near. A fine goal but some highly questionable defending from the Pitmen


In the final minute of a poor first-half showing from the Pitmen, Ridley did well down the right flank and clipped a cross into the far post where Whittaker was on hand to head goalwards, only for Richmond to make what was a fairly simple save at his far post to claim Whittaker's tame header

The familiar muted boos - an unfortunate feature of the past twelve months at Keys Park - echoed around the ground at half-time as the Pitmen trudged off after yet another poor display. Hal-time saw both sides make changes as Phil Hadland replaced Martin Ridley for the hosts and Rocky White came on for Bowler for Matlock 

The Pitmen almost fell three behind a couple of minutes into the second half when a Walters slip allowed Holmes to take the ball on into the Hednesford penalty area and shoot from fifteen yards out, only for Young to make yet another good save

Jellicoe picked up the first booking of the game a minute later as he blatantly pulled Holmes back to stop the striker from breaking into the Hednesford penalty area 


With Hadland offering more penetration down the right, the Pitmen seemed to have more shape and improved as the second half progressed. Dyer held the ball up well on the edge of the Matlock box on fifty-three minutes before playing Hadland into space with a fine reverse pass. Hadland returned the ball to the youngster with a fine chipped cross, only for Dyer to head wide of goal under pressure from Steve Circuit

Two minutes later, Dyer was denied by Richmond as the striker got on the end of a cross from Walters, but saw the Matlock stopper tip his goalbound shot away for a corner kick. Groves took the resultant corner kick after some confusion who the corner kick taker was following Ridley's departure, swinging the ball into the six-yard box where Whittaker clashed with Richmond and turned the ball home, only for the goal to be chalked off due to a foul on Richmond by Whittaker in the build-up

The excellent Dyer - improving with every game - went close to reducing the deficit on fifty-nine minutes as he fired a matter of inches wide of the post with a firmly struck effort from eighteen yards out

The teenager did eventually grab his second goal in two games on sixty-three minutes to drag the Pitmen back into the game after a spell of pressure; Screaton found Steve Brannan with a quick throw-in down the right, with Brannan's fine cross to the back post firmly headed home by Dyer from six yards out

The home side upped the tempo as they sensed an equaliser and had a host of chances to level matters in the final quarter of the game. Franklin made a late run from deep to latch onto a pass from walters on sixty-seven minutes but found Richmond in the way of his firmly struck effort

Groves made a rare foray into Matlock territory from left-back on seventy-one minutes to get on the end of a quick passing move through midfield from the Pitmen but got his angles all wrong and fired into the Heath Hayes terrace with a wild effort

Barraclough had dropped back to help his side at set-pieces and was on hand with fourteen minutes remaining to clear the ball from inside his own six-yard box as a free-kick from Brannan dropped into the Matlock penalty area

On eighty minutes, Franklin's trickery saw him jink his way past Warne and into space just outside the Matlock penalty area. He played a neat ball into the feet of Dyer, who showed a fantastic burst of pace to get past Circuit but could not apply the finish as he scuffed the ball off his standing leg and straight into the arms of Richmond

The Pitmen forced three successive corner kicks as the game entered the final few minutes, with skipper Jellicoe heading wide from an inswinging Groves cross with three minutes remaining with what was to prove to be the Pitmen's best chance to level the game once more

In added time, a desperate scramble inside the Matlock penalty area saw Circuit hack the ball away from the lurking presence of Whittaker and found White out on the left. The substitute broke quickly and played Holmes into space, only for the Matlock striker to be denied a late breakaway goal by Adams's late intervention

A bi-polar campaign so far from the Pitmen has seen them lose both of their home games and win both of their away games in August, leaving Starbuck's side down in eleventh place in the table ahead of another home game this weekend, when Hull-based strugglers North Ferriby United make the journey down to face the Pitmen in a first-ever meeting between the two sides

Hednesford Town: Young, Ridley (Hadland 45), Groves, Brannan, Jellicoe © , Adams, Screaton, Franklin, Dyer, Whittaker, Walters      Subs Unused: Alexander, Pedro

Matlock Town: Richmond, McNicholas, Taylor, Circuit, Davis, Lukic ©, Webster, Warne, Holmes, Barraclough, Bowler (White 45)       Subs Unused: Williams, Bedward

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