Matlock Town 0-4 Leicester City
The young guns of Premiership new boys Leicester City were too strong for a youthful injury hit Gladiators line up, although the Foxes final two strikes were delayed until the dying embers of the contest.
Tuesday night’s Autoworld Arena clash saw Matlock give their all, but they were facing a big and athletic Leicester under 21 side who in all probability, would not look out of place in the Championship.
Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy was named skipper and was the only Gladiator over the age of thirty in an unfamiliar line up missing a host of household names.
But Matlock could not be accused of not giving it a good go before City’s superior fitness levels told late on.
Burly centre forward Jacob Blyth, signed from Conference North Leamington, last season, proved to be a handful throughout to the Matlock defence, who nevertheless, generally coped well with the thrust and movement in the Foxes attack.
Blyth had two early attempts, a shot across the face of goal after being found by Harry Panayitou, and then a header which dropped inches wide from a cross by Jack Barmby, son of former Tottenham, Hull and England striker, Nick Barmby. Panayitou then fired narrowly past Kennedy’s right hand post before Matlock might have snatched a 15th minute lead as Jason Stokes was off balance as he met an excellent low centre from Joe Leesley. City half scrambled the ball clear and Niall Dawkins following up blasted in a cracker which was superbly held by goalkeeper Adam Smith.
City lost defender Alie Sesay with a mouth injury after a collision with David Haggerty as Leicester increased the tempo. Ryan Watson, on the fringes of the Premiership squad ran at the heart of the Town back four only to scoop his shot on to the top of the bar before Michael Cain’s speculative twenty five yarder curled wide.
In between these two attempts Leon Osborne’s low cross from the right only needed a touch but City drew first blood with a training ground routine on 31 minutes.
Sesay’s replacement RYAN MEADOWS was the scorer with a header back across goal after a corner had been played short initially before Barmby floated in a peach of a cross to the back post.
Dawkins, Matlock’s trialist in the last couple of games and released by Derby County, was unlucky to see his thirty yarder flash wide with Smith a spectator as Matlock sought a reply before the interval.
In a busy Leicester start to the second period, Kennedy saved well from Joe Dodoo’s low volley, but Matlock responded positively as live wire Stokes crossed dangerously low from the right only to find team mates out of the picture. Shortly afterwards Stokes and Dawkins combined to set up Osborne who shot low beyond the far upright, quickly followed by Dawkins crossing from the left and Stokes volleying into the turf which made substitute stopper John Maddison’s save a good deal easier.
But almost immediately careless play by Dawkins put Oscar Radford in strife and City pick pocketed their way to a second goal as BLYTH rifled in a low shot past Kennedy on the hour.
A raft of changes were made before City added two late goals to make the final outcome hard on Matlock.
A delicious thirty yard exocet from SIMONAS STANKEVICIUS roared past a static Kennedy who could barely have seen it with seven minutes left and within three more minutes DODOO hammered in the fourth.
Despite the scoreline there were positives for manager Mark Atkins and Matlock. Leesley had an outstanding game from left back while Josh Meade excelled in the middle of the park before tiring in the last quarter of an hour. Stokes always looked to take on the Leicester defence, and could quickly become a favourite with the Autoworld Arena audience. But Atkins will know another twenty odd goal a season striker is badly needed.
It was a pity only 199 fans showed up. Those who stayed away missed a fine evening’s entertainment with both sides playing their part.
MATLOCK TOWN; 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Dean Freeman 3 Joe Leesley
4 Josh Meade 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford (Niall Dawkins 84) 7 Niall Dawkins (14 Oliver Brock 64) 8 Jason Stokes 9 Leon Osborne (15 Corey Gregory 66) 10 Alex Hewitt 11 Lavell White (12 Jordan Snodin 52) Other sub: 17 Matt Leese
LEICESTER CITY: 1 Adam Smith (13 John Maddison 46) 2 Matthew Miles (14 Jack McCourt 46) 3 Herve Pepe N’Goma 4 Ryan Watson 5 Alie Sesay (12 Ryan Meadows 23) 6 Kieran Kennedy 7 Harry Panayitou (16 Simonas Stankevicius 67) 8 Michael Cain 9 Jacob Blyth 10 Jack Barmby (15 Daniel Rowe 71) 11 Joe Dodoo.
REFEREE: N Hopton (Derby) ATTENDANCE: 199