Matlock can have few complaints with the result as the Reds won with ease. For the second successive Saturday, the Gladiators were outplayed in all departments.
United showed just why they are one of the favourites for the title, Matlock could not cope with their attacking prowess and could have lost by more.
It was like a game of attack versus defence with the United forward line winning hands down. The visitors offered very little as an attacking force, basically because of their inability to retain possession. A measure of their bluntness at the business end of the field is shown by the fact that their one and only corner arrived two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game. James Spencer in the United goal scarcely had a shot to save.
Carlos Roca, so often a thorn in Matlock’s side was soon up to his ricks having a shot deflected wide in the opening minute. Then on 4 minutes striker Mike Norton turned a Jerome Wright cross over the bar after Matlock had carelessly given the ball away just inside their own half.
Norton should have scored on 17 minutes when Roca teased Lee Featherstone before delivering a peach of a cross which was nodded wide. Ryan laight blocked from Matty Wolfenden before Lee Neville drove too high.As the pressure was maintained on the Gladiators goal Roca shot narrowly wide after a good move down the left.
Neville scuffed his shot at Kennedy as Matlock fought to keep their heads above water.
A rare Town attack saw Gareth Davies in space on the right but nobody was up in support to finish off his low cross played along the United penalty box. Neville cleaned up efficently when there was a sniff of a chance for Leesley but Matlock seldom showed any sign of potency in the final third.
The goal United had threatened came on 41 minutes when Wright ran into the excellent Adam Yates who simply had no chance of getting out of the winger’s way. A harsh free kick was awarded but what happened afterwards was criminal as far as Matlock were concerned. The ball was swung to the far post where the prolific MIKE NORTON netted with a free header.
Davies shot too high in Matlock’s first noteworthy attempt shortly afterwards, but conceding a sloppy goal so close to half time started their plight which was worsened six minutes into the second half.
ROCA had already beaten Featherstone far too easily to create a chance for Wright whose header was blocked. But after Davies had given the ball away, he ran at the Town defence in cavalier style firing in from twenty yards as Jon Kennedy could only help the shot over the line.
It was game over as far as Matlock were concerned, with damage limitation being the prime aim.
However there was agood chance for Matlock on 59 minutes when Lewis McMahon broke clear and from the stands, looked to be pulled down by Spencer for a clear penalty. Referee Cropp played on and afterwards McMahon admitted the decision to be correct, saying Spencer had got the slightest of touches on the ball.
United instantly swept to the other end for Kennedy to tip away a Roca shot and from the corner block an Adam Jones header at the far post.
New signing Rory Coleman replaced McMahon who had undergone a fitness test beforehand, with Roca then being replaced to huge acclaim by the 1763 crowd at Bury by Stephen Johnson.
If Matlock thought their grilling from United’s right would cease, they would be badly mistaken. Full back KYLE JACOBS took over scoring the final two goals.
Norton failed with a free header from a corner and Coleman blocked a Jacobs shot as the full back warmed up for his coup de gras.
On 75, he ran unchallenged from deep and drove low just inside Kennedy’s left hand post.
In the next minute, Grayson found room on the right and pulled an inviting ball back, but typical of the Matlock display, nobody was there to finish off.
Matlock’s injury crisis was exacerbated as Davies was stretchered off with a leg injury, and they had to complete the game with ten players as all substitutions had been made.
They were badly outnumbered on 84 minutes as JACOBS again penetrated their now brittle rearguard to shoot past Kennedy and he might have had a hat-trick as his thirty yarder flashed high by a slender distance.
The final whistle came as a relief to Matlock who had offered precious little resistance to their battering.
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Adam Yates, Lee Featherstone (Phil Roe 74), Martin Foster, Ryan Laight, Luke Foster, Ryan Hindley (Bradley Grayson 56), Gareth Davies, Lee Ellington, Lewis McMahon (Rory Coleman 61), Joe Leesley. Other subs: Will Dennis, Nick Buxton
REFEREE: B Cropp–Lytham St Annes ATTENDANCE: 1763 STAR MAN: Adam Yates