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Narrow defeat for Dolly Blues at Matlock

Photo: Phil Dawson

It was another defeat for Lancaster City, as they lost 1-0 to Matlock Town in the Northern Premier League.

Matlock Town went in front thanks to a powerful Alex Wiles strike before the break and, even though City really applied the pressure in the second half, that turned out to be the only goal of the game.

The home side were controversially reduced to ten men in the closing stages of the game when Alex Byrne’s foot collided with Dollies ‘keeper Curtis Anderson’s head. The goalkeeper was forced off through injury, so their captain for Saturday’s game and defender by trade, Sam Bailey, played in goal for the remainder of the match.

Matlock looked confident and played some good football during the first half, their first chance of note came in the sixth minute when Jordan Barnett’s free kick hit the corner of the woodwork. Later in the half, Alex Byrne was unable to capitalise on two chances he got off the back of a counter attack, he saw his first shot blocked by Edward Elewa-Ikpakwu and the second went wide of goal.

The home side got the only goal of the game when Alex Wiles rifled the ball home after some scrappy play in the penalty area.

The Dolly Blues always had a chance of getting back into the game from that point, coming forward regularly in the second half but not being profitable enough in the final third. By the same token, Matlock could’ve scored another goal or two, but their intensity ebbed away as the game progressed.

Curtis Anderson made a great save to deny Alex Byrne’s free kick from finding the back of the net.

And it wouldn’t be the last time that those two were involved in a big moment of the game. Byrne was sent off after colliding with Anderson whilst attempting to chase down the ball. The majority of players on the pitch were surprised with the referee’s decision to send Byrne off. With Anderson, who is likely to have suffered concussion, unable to carry on and no goalkeeper on the bench, Sam Bailey was handed the number 1 jersey for the short time that remained. Bailey was called into action once or twice in that period.

Minutes before that, City had a chance from a set piece – the original shot was blocked by the Matlock defence but a game of pinball in the box soon followed, the ball ended up in ‘keeper James Pollard’s hands.

Enock Likoy could’ve made it 1-1 with just seconds to go but a great save from Pollard ensured that the Gladiators came out on top in this Northern Premier Division battle.

The Dollies’ Man of the match was the recently-signed centre-back Patrick Allington who was a big part of a very solid defensive display from the away side, barring the goal they conceded.

Despite the loss, manager Mark Fell felt his side did enough for a point.

“I know that three or four wins in this league will propel us back up to a good position and a platform to get us moving,’’ Fell said.

‘’The quicker we get there, the better but we know that we’ve got some light at the end of the tunnel with certain players (coming back from injury).

“If we get through the Morpeth game on Tuesday then I’m sure we’ll start to look a bit more like ourselves from the week after.

“It’s been a tough start (to the season) but I’m looking forward to seeing the Lancaster City that I know we are.”

Lancaster City will travel to Northumberland on Tuesday to face Morpeth Town.

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