By Robert Summerscales
Ten-man Nantwich Town lost 1-0 to Matlock  in a controversial game at the Weaver Stadium.

But the match will be remembered for an ill referee and a serious leg injury which suspended play for 20 minutes.

Anthony Griffiths-Junior’s first-half strike was enough to consign the Dabbers, who had Josh Lane sent off late in the game, to a second consecutive league defeat.

Lane was shown a straight red for his challenge on Oscar Radford with 11 minutes remaining.

The Crewe-born midfielder made clear contact on the ball with his right boot, but caught Radford with his trailing leg.

Radford, who suffered a gashed leg, had to be stretchered off the field and the game was suspended for 20 minutes while paramedics treated the Matlock defender.

Radford was taken to Leighton Hospital but has now been discharged, confirming his leg was not broken in the challenge.

The start had already been delayed by 15 minutes after a late replacement referee was called in for the original official who fell ill.

Nantwich, who included four debutants in their starting line-up in Chris Jones, Charlie Raglan, Aaron Cole and Jason Oswell, started the game brightly and came close to breaking the deadlock after just four minutes.

Cole latched onto Oswell’s flick-on and raced away down the left, before drilling in a low cross towards Kyle Wilson, who, on the slide, could only direct his close-range shot into the side netting.

The Dabbers survived a scare at the other end moments later.

Massiah McDonald capitalised on a mistake by Chris Jones and then dribbled the ball around goalkeeper Jon Brain, only to lose his balance, allowing Jones to recover and make a last-ditch clearance.

The visitors took the lead on 27 minutes, when Griffiths-Junior bundled home at the far post, following a precise low cross from McDonald.

Nantwich almost found an immediate equaliser, but Wilson sent his low curling effort just wide, after dispossessing Radford in the penalty area.

Raglan then made a superb goal-line clearance to deny McDonald and ensure the Dabbers reached the interval without falling further behind.

The second half was a scrappy affair as the Gladiators sat deep and starved Nantwich of space in the final third.

And it became even more difficult when Lane was dismissed, but the Dabbers twice threatened to level the scores once the game restarted.

Oswell nodded narrowly over from Sean Cooke’s corner, before the head of John Lukic blocked Cooke’s goal-bound free kick.

Matlock survived the late onslaught and they climb two places to 15th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, while Nantwich remain 14th.

Nantwich: Brain, Jones (Campbell 45), Bateman, Guest, (Lane 45) Raglan, Moss ©, Cooke, Maguire, Oswell, Wilson (Everall 72), Cole. Subs: Dicker, Hughes.

Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, Yates, Radford (Dennis 79), Lukic ©, Grayson, Ashmore, McDonald, Davies, Griffiths-Junior (Leesley 72). Subs: Travis.

(All pictures by Simon J Newbury Photography)

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