Second half goals from James Ashmore, his first for the club, and Massiah McDonald ensured that Matlock comfortably won the Derbyshire derby at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
This was Matlock’s fourth league win on the bounce and once they had gone in front, there was little doubt that maximum points were on their way back to the Reynolds Stadium.
With Oscar Radford injured, Adam Yates continued alongside James Lukic in central defence, but an enforced change through Glyn Cotton’s suspension saw Matlock hand a debut to striker Anthony Griffiths-Junior, who played in tandem with McDonald in attack. Griffiths-Junior had previously played for Eastwood against Town this season, but had joined from Buxton.
The Robins enjoyed the bulk of the early possession without creating a worthwhile chance, moves often breaking down to a faulty final pass and excellent defending from the Gladiators. Matlock took a while to settle, but had the first dangerous chance on 8 minutes when McDonald fed Gareth Davies whose shot struck a defender to take the venom out of his strike, goalkeeper Chris Martin being able to gather easily.
Then a drive from Martin Foster was also charged down and as Matlock increased the tempo Ryan Wilson was rightly booked for pulling back Bradley Grayson, who would prove to be a handful for the Ilkeston manager Kevin Wilson’s son as the game wore on.
Davies had another effort blocked after McDonald had again done the spadework before the Robins debutant. Curtis Thompson, on loan from Notts County was lucky to stay on the field for a vicious lunge at Micky Harcourt. He was relieved to see just a yellow card.
A half devoid of clear cut chances ended with Matt Richards firing over the bar from distance.
Matlock emerged from their half time cuppa and words of wisdom from manager Mark Atkins in determined mood and wasted little time in going in front. Wilson was again beaten on the right and JAMES ASHMORE took his time to tee up a left footed strike from the edge of the box which left Martin well beaten as it sped past his left hand.
That opening goal came just ninety seconds after the restart and Ilkeston now had it all to do. The hosts breathed a huge sigh of relief when Lukic’s header from a 52nd minute corner skimmed the bar, but Matlock put the game to bed by doubling their lead on the hour. Again the goal was created down the right with Harcourt crossing from the right and despite the centre being deflected, McDONALD rose superbly to power his header beyond Martin.
Jon Kennedy for the most part was not truly tested, apart from on 64 minutes when he did well to drop on a strike from veteran Gary Ricketts at his near post.
Yates later superbly robbed Ricketts to concede a corner which Joe Maguire headed well wide but Matlock comfortably kept out a Robins side that lacked invention to win the derby honours.
Matlock bossed the midfield with increasing authority in the second half as Ashmore and Foster’s industry ensured that the Gladiators continued to repel Ilkeston and look threatening when they came forward. Most notably the Gladiators silenced a noisy Ilkeston home support in the second period as a classic away performance earned them the spoils.
Joining Wilson and Thompson in referee Alix Pashley’s notebook were Ilkeston substitute Jack Watts plus Yates and McDonald from the Gladiators.
Kevin Wilson labelled the home performance as “unacceptable” adding it was all to easy for Matlock once his side had fallen behind. That is a true assessment but Matlock boss Mark Atkins will be pleased with the effort and application shown by his players, the result obviously, plus their first clean sheet on their travels this season.
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Phil Roe, Martin Foster, Adam Yates, James Lukic,Bradley Grayson, James Ashmore, Messiah McDonald, Anthony Griffiths-Junior (Laurence Gaughan 78), Gareth Davies. Other substitutes: Joe Leesley, Liam Wilkin, Will Dennis, Nick Buxton.
REFEREE: A Pashley (North Wingfield) ATTENDANCE: 612 STAR MAN: James Ashmore.