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Match Report  |  Matlock Town vs Gresley Rovers

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31st January 1989

Matlock Town vs Gresley Rovers

Acklam pops up to earn point for the crocks – Burton Mail

Rovers boss Frank Northwood, a renowned shuffler of footballing packs, was forced to admit after yesterday’s disappointing draw that injuries had left him with too many cards short of a full deck.

Ironically, the man whose critics have accused him of changing sides too often and too easily has been striving to stay on top of the Banks’s Premier with a settled eleven this term.

A run of appalling bad luck on the injuries front, though, had left Northwood with almost as many crocks as Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool and prompted the Rovers boss to observe: “You can only make so many changes.”

One of those changes enabled exiled midfielder Graham Fearn to make a long-awaited return to the Gresley starting line up. But if this was the former Eton Park favourite’s big chance, he was given just long enough to blow it.

The silken-skilled schemer, who had made such an impact when he came on as a substitute at Harrisons two days before, failed to impose his personality on the game and was replaced early in the second half by recent recruit Bobby Evans. Only then did Gresley begin to look capable of staying on the victory trail.

Ironically, Fearn had unwittingly played a key part in Rovers’ 33rd minute goal. His square pass across the Malvern box was intended to switch play but hit a defender’s leg the ball fell fortunately into the path of Paul Acklam who strode past the home defence and walked the ball into the net.

Rovers had fallen behind in the 19th minute when Michael Guest’s half-clearance of a left wing raid was swiftly returned to the danger area by the full back Nigel Russell for dumpy striker Joey Rawle to head over Bob Aston – and the goal stood despite strong suspicions that Rawle pushed a defender in the process.

The goal was no surprise, nonetheless: Malvern had looked the more dangerous from the off and Acklam’s goal apart, it wasn’t until after the break that Rovers began to test home keeper Mark Hingley.

Kieron Smith forced a good save at the foot of the post when he connected with Fearn’s corner and Ian Wells, thrust into virtually ineffective front running role by the absence of Tracey Norton and Graham Jones from attack, tested the keeper’s positioning with a header from Evans’ excellent right wing cross.

The departure of injured Richard Denby from midfield, though, meant Malvern were always going to be in with a shout despite the ball-winning qualities created by the introduction of Guest to that department.

Indeed, Town nearly stole all three points when a moment of hesitation by skipper Dean Page allowed Darren Bullock a free run at goal but the faultless Bob Aston saved at the winger’s feet and Page atoned for his error by sweeping the loose ball off the line.

Malvern Town (1) 1

Gresley Rovers (1) 1

Scorers: Rawle 19 (Malvern Town); Acklam 33 (Gresley Rovers).

Malvern Town: Hingley, Russell, Kerby, Jones, Burton, O’Neill, Cotterill, Aldington, Rawle, Moverley, Bullock. Subs not used: Price, Shepherd.

Gresley Rovers: Aston, Dick, Perry, Denby (Moore 45), Haskins, Page, Fearn (Evans 59), Smith, Acklam, Wells, Guest.

Gresley man-of-the-match: Bob Aston.

Referee: M J Arch (Kidderminster).

Attendance: 140