Eastwood Town 1 Matlock Town 2
Eastwood once again fell to defeat in a game they really should have won as Matlock Town put them out of the FA Trophy on Saturday.
A combination of missed chances, bad luck and individual errors cost the Badgers dear for a second week running as another £2,500 prize money went begging.
New signing Troy Pennycooke-Morgan took his place on the bench with returning defender Chris Shaw deputising for the injured Paul Riley.
Matt Hamshaw was first to threaten for the visitors when his excellent corner was scrambled cleared by a struggling Sam Andrew in the Eastwood goal.
At the other end, Paolo Piliero flicked on Alex Troke’s free kick to present TJ Nightingale with a good opportunity but the former Matlock striker could only volley over.
Moments later Anthony Griffith Jnr tried an audacious overhead kick which just went wide.
Controlling play, the Badgers went ahead in the 17th minute as Shaw’s free-kick caused havoc in the Matlock box and Nightingale lashed home the loose ball.
However Matlock were soon back on level terms when Eastwood defender Romaine Graham was harshly judged to have handled Troke’s attempted clearance, former Gainsborough midfielder Lewis McMahon dispatching the ball expertly from the spot.
Shaw was the first Badger to hit the woodwork as one of his trademark free-kicks dipped late to strike the crossbar from 25 yards and Nightingale should have restored the Badgers lead on the stroke of half-time, blazing a loose ball over as the hosts finished the half strongly.
The second-half started with the Badgers in the ascendency and Griffith Jnr forced a good save from Kennedy after his quick feet fashioned a chance just inside the box.
The 52nd minute should have seen the visitors reduced to ten men as Kennedy sprinted out to meet the onrushing Nightingale, using his hands to deny the striker. Surprisingly the referee only produced a yellow and Matlock’s luck held out further as Griffith Jnr smashed the resultant free-kick against the crossbar.
Nightingale almost put the Badgers ahead 14 minutes later when he went on a mazy run that ended with the striker crashing another shot against the crossbar.
Massiah McDonald reminded the Badgers that Matlock were still in the game when he almost poked the visitors ahead although the striker wasn’t to be denied for long.
Having failed to convert any of the numerous chances falling their way, even the most optimistic Eastwood fan knew they were only one mistake away from defeat.
So when McDonald chased a long ball downfield, outpacing Graham in the process, they feared the worst. Andrew came out quickly but hesitated, allowing McDonald to clip the ball past the stranded custodian and into the corner of the goal.
The Badgers beavered away without really creating any more decent chances, and their second cup exit in two weeks was sealed.
Eastwood: 1 Sam Andrew 2 Alex Troke (Gregg Simmons 85) 3 Chris Shaw 4 Romaine Graham 5 Deon Meikle 6 Perry Marriott 7 Danny Elliott (Cameron Fearon 76) 8 Mitch Hanson 9 TJ Nightingale 10 Anthony Griffith Jnr 11 Paolo Piliero (Troy Pennycooke-Morgan 45). Sub not used: Josh Raven Scorers: Nightingale 17 Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Will Dennis (Kane Richards 67) 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Martin Foster 5 Luke Foster 6 James Lukic 7 Matt Hamshaw 8 Adam Yates 9 Massiah McDonald (Joe Leesley 90) 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Glyn Cotton. Subs not used: Shaun Tuton, Danny Deakin, Nick Buxton
Scorers: McMahon 25, McDonald 76