MATLOCK TOWN 3-0 STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS
Matlock gave their fans an early season treat with three goals and a convincing victory in their first home game of the season as they quickly put Saturday’s disappointing result and performance at Trafford behind them.
A first goal in Gladiators colours for Lavell White and a brace from Darryl Thomas on his home debut saw off a Steels side who included three former Matlock players in their line up in Chris Bettney, Nathan Joynes and James Knowles.
In the end Stocksbridge,3-1 winners in their opener at home to Droylsden were happy it was only three as Matlock could comfortably have added to their tally.
White replaced Martin Foster as the one change from the Trafford defeat and it was a brave but brilliant decision by boss Mark Atkins. The ex Eastwood winger has often been frustrating, all too often a bad final ball would bring an end to promising moves. But not on Tuesday as White ran the Steels defence ragged and could so easily have finished with a hat-trick.
More significantly White offered not only pace, but width as both of Matlock’s first two goals came from speedy breaks down the flanks.
After Thomas had fiercely driven a couple of yards wide following a neat move on the right, another excellent break down the same flank saw Town reap their reward on 7 minutes. Thomas released the overlapping Micky Harcourt whose great cross was met by Danny Holland’s bullet header. Steels custodian Ben Scott produced a stunning save but his defenders failed to help as WHITE reacted quickest to nod over Scott.
Steels might have leveled five minutes later but Kennedy brilliantly tipped defender Nick Swirad’s header over the bar, but that was the nearest they came throughout the contest.
Matlock responded positively as James Ashmore drove narrowly over, a Holland header met a similar fate following fine build up play involving Thomas and Harcourt, David Haggerty nodded wide and an inviting Corey Gregory free kick was missed by everyone attacking the Stocksbridge goal in a blue shirt.
But Town doubled their lead on 22 minutes as a now typical surge down the left from Joe Leesley saw THOMAS expertly flick the full back’s teasing cross past Scott.
Stocksbridge’s threat was from set pieces and they had a number of free kicks mostly delivered by Bettney towards the tall figures of Brett Bowden-Lovell, Joynes and Danny South but led by Haggerty, Matlock defended them superbly although a fierce dead ball strike from winger Chris White swerved narrowly past Kennedy’s left hand post on 38 minutes.
Matlock came off at the interval with good reason to be pleased with their work so far and that pleasure was increased just two minutes after the restart.
Leesley’s decoy run outside of White on the left encouraged White to advance and hit a hugely deflected shot which looped up to deceive Scott who could only palm the ball down and THOMAS snapped up an easy chance,although there might have been a case for saying White’s shot had already crossed the line.
Matlock now turned on the style. Cocky White raced down the left to flash a cracking centre along the six yard area before Holland’s incisive pass sent him clear on the left to shoot a foot past the far post.
Holland went equally close from the opposite side as he led the line superbly. White faced Scott again from a cheeky back heel by Thomas only for the goalkeeper to produce a fine block which was easily bettered on 71 minutes as a free kick was tapped to Harcourt. How Scott got to the full back’s power packed effort and then claw it to safety, only he will know. From the corner an unmarked Harcourt prodded weakly wide at the back post.
Substitute Alec Denton shot across the face of the goal in a rare Stocksbridge attack, Matlock having the bonus of keeping a clean sheet in the process.
Tougher tests are on the horizon but Matlock clinically swept a better than last season but still limited Stocksbridge aside to record a much needed first win of the campaign.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Lavelle White 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory (12 Gareth Davies 82) 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Darryl Thomas (14 Antony Griffiths-Junior 90)11 Liam Needham Other subs: 15 Liam Gaughan 16 Will Dennis 17 Nick Buxton
STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS: 1 Ben Scott 2 Liam Royles 3 Ben Turner 4 Nick Swirad 5 Brett Bowden-Lovell 6 Alex Callery 7 Chris Bettney 8 James Knowles (12 Will Senior 64) 9 Danny South (17 Alec Denton 64) 10 Nathan Joynes 11 Chris White (14 John Travis 76) Other subs: 15 Lewis Akeister 16 Janni Lipra
REFEREE: Mr Akil Howson (Leicester) ATTENDANCE: 328 BEST GLADIATOR: Darryl Thomas