• Matthew Rhodes

Two in two for Matlock as Hyde are beaten

NPL Premier Division

Matlock Town 2

Kendall 61, Hasani 83

Hyde Utd 1

Hardy 90

Second half goals from Reece Kendall and substitute Lirak Hasani gave Matlock Town a 2-1 victory at home over Hyde United on Saturday afternoon in the NPL Premier Division.

The win meant the Gladiators moved up a place into tenth position in the league after two wins from their first three league matches of the 2021/22 campaign.

The Derbyshire outfit were certainly the better team in the first half but just seemed to lack punch in the final third and were unable to find a breakthrough.

Matlock’s first real chance of the game arrived in the seventh minute when wing-back Reece Kendall blazed the ball narrowly over the bar following a fumble by the Tigers goalkeeper after an Alex Byrne corner.

Lirak Hasani (no.19) is congratulated after scoring Matlock's second goal. Photo: Craig Lamont.

A spate of opportunities occurred in a five minute spell midway through the half.

Firstly, Kendall’s header inside the penalty area in the 25th minute was deflected by a Tigers defender just wide of the post. Just two minutes later, Jesurun Uchegbulam came agonisingly close to giving Matlock the lead when his rapid effort from just inside the penalty area was tipped around the post superbly by the Hyde goalkeeper Joe Green. Then in the 29th minute, Alex Wiles’ long range effort from central midfield was diverted just over the cross bar.

Hyde survived the flurry of chances though and the first half petered out and ended goalless when the referee’s whistle blew.

Matlock took the second half by the scruff of the neck in order to claim their second victory in a row. Just five minutes into the second half, Uchegbulam impressed the crowd once again as he side-stepped his way past two opponents only for his effort from 12 yards to be well blocked by the oncoming goalkeeper.

The key to breaking Hyde’s resolute defence though came from an inspired substitution from Matlock’s manager Paul Phillips. In the 54th minute, loan signing Lirak Hasani came on for Jonathan Wafula. This allowed Uchegbulam greater freedom out on the wing and Matlock were instantly able to attack with more fluidity and frequency. Hyde simply had no answer to the gear that Matlock stepped up to for the remainder of the game.

The deadlock was broken on the hour mark when Kendall netted his first goal of the season. Byrne delivered an excellent cross from the right wing and Kendall won the battle with Green to head home from 12 yards out into an empty net.

Matlock came extremely close to doubling their advantage five minutes later when a Hyde defender came perilously close to diverting the ball into his own net. His attempt to clear the ball inside a packed penalty area following a corner saw the ball ricochet off the cross bar before it was eventually cleared away from danger.

Just a minute later, Byrne found himself in a great position from 20 yards out but his shot curled wide of the post when he probably should have done better.

Matlock’s deserved second goal arrived ten minutes from time when Hasani scored his first goal for the club since joining on loan from Doncaster Rovers. Green should have done better, but Hasani’s glancing header from 12 yards out following a Ross Hannah cross was accurate enough to ripple the back of the net.

Hyde managed a consolation goal in injury time when former Buxton and Grantham Town striker Liam Hardy scuffed the ball home from close range just out of Shaun Rowley’s reach.

The Gladiators held on though for their second victory in row and now face Nantwich Town away from home on August 24 in the league.

Matlock: Rowley, Sharman, Kendall, Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Byrne (c), Wiles (Walker 76), Hannah, Uchegbulam (Hall 89), Wafula (Hasani 54). Unused subs: Coppin, King.

Attendance: 446