Lewis McMahon scored four minutes from time to give the Gladiators victory against a plucky Teversal who ply their trade three divisions below their visitors.
One of a number of trialists on view put Town ahead inside just 36 seconds and in the early stages it looked as if Matlock would win emphatically. But they could not add to their lead and Shaun Tuton, heading for Macclesfield Town on trial next wee, equalised five minutes before the interval.
Given that it was Matlock’s first outing, there were lots of positives to take from the game, most notably their excellent build up play and also their high level of fitness.
They made the best possible start as Danny Claridge wilted under pressure from the trialist winger who hammered a firm drive past the helpless Danny Herring. A third minute free kick from the same trialist passed narrowly over the bar.
Adam Yates nearly gifted the hosts an equaliser when his knock back towards Jon Kennedy was awry and bounced inches past the post for the concession of an unnecessary corner.
But Matlock were dominating and when McMahon played in the advancing Laurence Gaughan with a neat pass it took a timely intervention from Ross Henshaw to thwart the number six.
Herring then pulled off a superb 23rd minute save, tipping a McMahon thunderbolt over the frame of the goal and after more excellent approach play, McMahon shot narrowly wide from a similar range.
McMahon was denied by Herring’s brilliance again following Nathan Joynes’ neat flick but out of the blue Tevie levelled when TUTON tucked his shot under Kennedy after a precision through pass from Sean Dickenson.
Matlock’s scoring trialist was soon close again firing inches wide from the edge of the box. It was disappointing for Matlock only to be level at the interval. As Assistant Manager Nic Buxton said afterwards, “we passed the ball about more in that first half than we did for the whole of last season.”
Early pre season encounters almost always bring about a plethora of changes. This was no exception.
The equaliser had given a previously outplayed Teversal more belief and a more even second period followed.
Lee Ellington headed a Chris Bettney free kick too high. Bettney’s appearance was a surprise, the winger asking if he could come back before training began. So was the return of defender Ryan Laight.
When Kris Bowler was robbed by Ben Ferguson who crossed for Dickenson to head against the bar, Matlock had a 50th minute escape. But then the impressive pace of Bradley Grayson came to the fore and his first time lobbed volley from Gareth Davies’ pass dipped too late as it flew behind.
Matlock continued to try and pass their way forward, but sometimes they overcooked the pudding. This was perhaps the case when they suffered the blow of losing Micky Harcourt with a bang on the same foot which caused him to miss the final five weeks of last season, and could prove troublesome again. At least he could claim bragging rights over his brother Will who was appearing at right back for Teversal.
Grayson raced down the right to cross low for McMahon whose shot was scrambled behind for a corner by the excellent Henshaw.
Laight did well to bloc a fierce Dave Cockerel strike and Henshaw should have done better than place a free header from Dickenson’s free kick too high with six minutes remaining.
McMAHON took full advantage, again with Grayson the provider as he sped down the left beating his marker for pace and rolling in an inviting centre which was swept home with aplomb by one of Matlock’s new permanent signings.
James Ashmore and a further trialist took the midfield by the scruff of the neck in the first half as Matlock looked comfortable with and without the ball. Early days yet granted, but plenty to be optimistic about.
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Kris Witcombe, Lee Featherstone, Trialist, Adam Yates, Laurence Gaughan, Trialist, James Ashmore, Lee Ellington, Nathan Joynes, Lewis McMahon. Subs: Ryan Laight, Kris Bowler, Gareth Davies, Chris Bettney, Bradley Grayson, Ben Algar, Micky Harcourt, Trialist.
ATTENDANCE: 100 est.