Blues battle past Matlock to stay top

Whitby Town 1-0 Matlock
Whitby Town 1-0 Matlock

A second half Dale Hopson strike keeps battling Whitby Town top of the Evo-Stik League despite a tremendous assault from an impressive Matlock side, who are still very much part of the NPL promotion picture.

The Gladiators have been one of the division's form sides, with just a defeat at Conference Altrincham since September.

Amid galeforce winds, it was the hosts who threatened first, however, as Mikey Roberts went clear on the left-edge of the box but fired across the face and wide, on three minutes.

At the other end, the impressive Niall McManus cut in off the right and forced Shane Bland to touch over the crossbar with a curling effort.

While Kieran Weledji and Dale Hopson's neat interplay on the right ended with a ball across the six yard from the former but no touch from either side.

The second half was a much more lively affair. Despite the hale and Yorkshire gloom, the Derbyshire visitors started strongly.

Curtis Morrison clipped over from 20 yards, Michael Williams did likewise and McManus went in on goal, only to be denied by a brilliantly-timed Mark Robinson slide tackle.

Phil Barnes had a quiet afternoon in the away goal but was forced into action on 53 minutes, saving full-length to his left after Matty Tymon helped on Hopson's left-wing cross.

The tricky Ted Cribley forced Bland to tip over another 20-yard dipper, with the same player forcing Bland to smother at his near post, with a neat backheel, from the resulting left-wing corner. So it was against the run of play when Whitby led, just after the hour.

Dan McWilliams' left-wing cross was headed doiwn by Tymon for Hopson to sidefoot into the bottom-right corner from six yards.

For Matlock, Marcus Dinanga turned wide and Williams came close again from distance.

The Blues were effectively playing on the break and had a chance to double their advantage with a 3-on-2 but McWilliams' unconvincing low shot was held low by Barnes.

As the yellow hordes laid siege, a scramble in the Whitby box was turned onto Bland's left-hand post, point-blank by Morrison.