Unbeaten run comes to a halt as Gladiators shut out Tigers

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Worksop Town began the year in disappointing fashion, as their unbeaten run came to a halt at the hands of Matlock Town on Wednesday.

A drab affair, played in wet and blustery conditions, ended 1-0 to the Gladiators, who defended stoutly against a lacklustre Tigers attack.

The visitors were missing the injured Leon Mettam, and went on to lose keeper Jon Stewart at the interval, but the loss stemmed from a lack of creativity.

There was an early chance for the hosts, Darryl Thomas racing onto a loose ball only to be denied by Stewart, and when Lewis McMahon chipped goalwards Alex Pursehouse was there to clear.

In an opening bereft of quality, Matlock fashioned another opportunity with a long free-kick, headed on by David Haggerty and nodded wide by McMahon from six yards.

The game’s first yellow could have gone to former Tiger Cecil Nyoni for his challenge on Josh Hill, but a worse one committed by Joe Leesley on Jack Adams brought a caution.

From the resulting free-kick, Conor Higginson curled the ball well over the bar.

The midfielder then flew into a tackle on Micky Harcourt, earning yellow and sparking a furious reaction from Matlock who had McMahon booked in the aftermath.

Matlock took full advantage of the following set piece, the ball to the back post finding Nyoni who headed home.

It was the 37th minute before Tigers forced a save from Jon Kennedy in the Matlock goal, Pursehouse skipping inside and firing in a low shot that the stopper palmed over.

Matlock got a little lucky seconds later when Jack Muldoon backheeled towards goal from a few yards out and the ball was cleared off the line.

Half-time saw a change for the visitors, Ben Gathercole taking Stewart’s place between the posts as the keeper failed to recover from a knock picked up in the warm-up.

A couple of half chances for Muldoon came and went, before Leesley went on a storming run for Matlock and shot just wide of the near post.

Gathercole kept it a one goal game with his back post stop from Haggety’s shot, the ball somehow reaching the centre-half in acres of space.

There was lots of possession for Worksop, but little in the way of their usual attacking play, Matlock packing the middle of the pitch and defending comfortably.

When the ball was played up to Tom Denton, Haggerty proved more than a match.

A poor back header by Chris Salt allowed McMahon to have a first time shot at goal with Gathercole scrambling, but the substitute managed to get down and smother the ball.

Tigers finally fashioned a good chance, Jack Adams flicking the ball through to Phil Roe on the left, his cross-cum-shot evading everyone.

Late in stoppage time Worksop had one last throw of the dice with a Roe corner that Kennedy tipped over, and when the ex Tiger claimed the next ball into the box the whistle brought an end to Mark Shaw’s men’s unbeaten run.

AFC Fylde present another stiff test for Tigers on Saturday.