• Matthew Rhodes

League leaders Matlock are held at Morpeth

NPL Premier Division

Morpeth Town 0

Matlock Town 0

Matlock Town played out their first draw of the season on Saturday following a dour and goalless affair at Craik Park against Morpeth Town.

The point on the road keeps Matlock at the top of the league but only based on goal difference now following South Shields' 3-1 victory at home over Gainsborough Trinity.

Fierce rivals Buxton missed the chance to go top themselves after they surprisingly lost to Lancaster City 1-0 away from home.

The game between the Highywaymen and the Gladiators was a dull contest which featured very few clear-cut chances for either side and lots of lost possession in midfield from both teams.

Matlock's first real opportunity of any sort arrived in the 23rd minute. Ross Hannah found space to run down the left flank and pass the ball to a free Alex Wiles on the edge of the penalty area, who dragged his effort wide of the post when he should really have hit the target.

Two minutes later, a fantastic free kick delivery from Alex Byrne on the right wing almost culminated in the deadlock being broken. Byrne's set piece found the head of Ryan Qualter but the centre-half couldn't quite direct his header from 12 yards out on target.

Matlock's best opportunity in the whole game fell on the stroke of half time. A goalmouth scramble resulted in three excellent blocks from Morpeth's defence to deny Byrne twice and also Matt Sargent on one occasion. From the following corner kick, Liam Hughes headed wide from 12 yards out when he should have at least tested Morpeth's goalkeeper.

Only two genuine attempts at goal came about in the second half and both of these opportunities fell to Morpeth.

In the 57th minute, Jack Foalle sliced the ball well wide from just inside the penalty area which summed the game up. The main talking point of the game though came with 20 minutes remaining. A goalmouth scramble following a long throw into the penalty area saw a Morpeth player eventually attempt to backheel the ball into the net while facing away from goal. This excellent piece of improvisation almost paid off as the effort beat Paul Cooper in goal. It was skipper Hughes though that came to Matlock's rescue as he cleared the ball off the goal line to keep the score at 0-0.

Despite plenty of long balls aimed at Matlock's defence in the final 20 minutes of the game, neither side offered anything of any real threat in the final quarter of the match and the game deserved to end 0-0.