Matlock 5 Bedford Athletic 0
Bedford Athletic combated the wind and rain of Derbyshire to no avail as a single try earned host Matlock a 5-0 Midlands One East victory on Saturday.
Committed Ath did at least earn a losing bonus point, which was no less than they deserved as they matched their opponents throughout, who came into the game undefeated in their previous eight league outings.
A cagey first half affair was dominated as small errors in Ath’s patterns gifted Matlock territory. This resulted in a penalty, which Matlock fly-half Chris Young scooped wide.
The pressure was finally relieved when Matlock full-back Alex Powell was sin-binned for stamping on 20 minutes and the visitors proceeded to dominate.
Their dominance yielded a penalty but, in the wind and rain, Paul Ryder sent it wide as the game remained scoreless at the break.
The turning point in the game in the opening minutes of the second half when Ath lock Liam Lancaster was yellow carded and, after Matlock had kicked to the corner they won a scrum five metres out.
The first shove was held by the seven-man Ath pack, but on the reset Matlock’s number eight James Cooper charged off the base of the scrum and was able to touch down for the game’s only score.
Minutes later the visitors applied some pressure in the home side’s 22 but a scrum in front of the posts was turned over with only seven men available to contribute to Ath’s push.
Despite missing influential fly-half James Mortimer, this season’s leading points scorer, and full-back Ben Johnson, their leading try scorer, Ath fought their way back into the game and dominated territory and possession for the final 20 minutes.
With Luke Levitt in the backs and Martin Wolfenden in the forwards leading the charge Ath sought an equalising score and, creeping their way upfield, Ath earned a penalty in the home side’s 22 with less than five minutes to play. However, in the howling wind and driving rain the ball was kicked dead and Matlock were able to clear their lines and hold on for the win.
Matlock still trail Ath who are now in fourth place by a point. Following a week’s break Athletic host leaders Old Northamptonians at Putnoe Woods on Saturday, 8 December, kick-off 2.15pm.