Matlock’s FA Cup journey came to an abrupt and undignified end as the Nailers comfortably won the First Qualifying Round replay at Christ Church Meadow to set up another tasty derby at Ilkeston on Saturday week.
Three unanswered second half goals sealed Matlock’s fate and like the two they conceded on Saturday, they were all down to bad defending.
Now manager Mark Atkins and his staff have the unenviable job of lifting a side bereft of confidence and it would seem know how for two difficult league encounters at home to Blyth Spartans at the weekend and at Grantham on Tuesday.
There was little sign of what was to come during a poor quality opening half in which Belper had more of the play but the Gladiators looked solid at the back without ever suggesting they would hurt the hosts at the other end. In fact Belper’s giant goalkeeper Aaron Chapman scarcely had a shot to save all evening.
Atkins was forced to alter his line up yet again as Ryan Laight was out through injury to be replaced by Kris Witcombe at right back. Lee Featherstone took Phil Roe’s left back berth with Luke Foster coming into central midfield as Joe Leesley, stretchered off in the first tie, was kept on the bench with Town’s other scorer three days earlier Shaun Tuton. Ryan Hindley was offered a start against one of his old clubs at Danny Deakin’s expense.
A Richard Stirrup twenty yarder swerved well wide inside two minutes before Matlock won a corner in reply and Chapman easily gathered Luke Foster’s header ahead of Lewis McMahon. Kennedy held a header from Jordan Ball before a shot from the same player bounced awkwardly in front of him and he was forced to help it around a post. Kennedy was harshly penalised after unwisely cgharging out of his box but the free kick was cleared. Belper’s shooting and final choice of pass was all too often awry to cause Matlock any heartache at this stage.
Matlock’s best attacking outlet appeared to be young winger Kane Richards, and when found by McMahon on the half hour his attempted lob proved to be an easy catch for Chapman.
Former Gladiator Ryan Mallon teased Featherstone on the right before slamming over a low cross which beat everyone before Richards had another opportunity when again found by McMahon, but his shot was hurried and fell wide. Then having robbed Greg Wright near the corner flag, the Derby loanee fell to the turf and might have been booked for simulation. The half concluded with Hindley cutting in from the left, his shot being deflected behind, the resulting corner flashing at head height across the six yard area.
McMahon’s through pass for Lee Ellington saw Chapman advance swiftly to grab possession and a couple of Belper shots were way off the mark. But Matlock’s troubles were soon to start of their own making.
Adam Yates rashly challenged Ball when there was no need to and from the penalty BALL calmly slotted home for the first of two quick fire strikes in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later Matlock could simply not clear their lines and the schoolboy defending was punished by BALL who netted again from close range.
Matlock could not cope with Belper’s up and at them direct style which in fairness suited the hosts who were a far more burly and physical side than the Gladiators.
Leesley and Tuton were introduced with just over half an hour left and at least then there was some added enthusiasm in the final third. But Matlock’s nerve had gone at the back and with little assistance from the midfield area, Belper looked likely to add to their lead and nearly did when Kennedy could not hold a Mallon strike after wriggling his way to create the shooting chance and Yates scrambled the ball away. Karl Colley sliced wide before Kennedy saved well from Ball but with ten minutes left, nobody in a blue shirt picked up COLLEY from a right wing corner and the giant centre half powered in a header to complete the scoring.
Tuton had an effort blocked before Leesley was pulled up for a foul in a scramble in the Nailers box as Matlock’s bid to find even a consolation was in vain. Leesley lifted a free kick over the bar as the visitors left the FA Cup with no prize money and barely with a whimper.
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Kris Witcombe (Phil Roe 70), Lee Featherstone, Martin Foster, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Kane Richards, Luke Foster (Joe Leesley 59), Lee Ellington (Shaun Tuton 59), Lewis McMahon, Ryan Hindley. Other subs: Danny Deakin, Will Dennis, Nick Buxton.
REFEREE: D Plowright (Mansfield) ATTENDANCE: 341 STAR MAN: James Lukic