Matlock Town 2-1 Grimsby Town
The Gladiators put together a promising performance as they deservedly beat the Mariners who were beaten play off semi-finalists in the Conference National last term.
Goals from trialist forward Ben Hutchinson and Leon Osborne earned Matlock their victory with Scott Neilson scoring in between for the visitors who included former Matlock goalscoring hero Ross Hannah in their attack.
Hannah was recovering from a jaw injury and had little chance to shine on his return to a ground where he has probably had his best years of his career.
The Gladiators also included former Doncaster midfielder Josh Meade in their midfield who for the most part looked composed and accomplished, and these were characteristics in the general performance of the team who were certainly not overawed by opponents two levels higher in the non league pyramid.
Hutchinson showed early intent as he drove wide from thirty yards in the 3rd minute but Matlock would have been behind, had not goalkeeper Jon Kennedy superbly tipped Joe Ironside’s header over the bar two minutes later. Kennedy was then swiftly out at Ironside’s feet to avert any further danger.
Jason Stokes was close to a champagne moment in the 19th minute with a cracking dipping volley which brought a magnificent save from James McKeown but that was only the prelude to Matlock going in front on 24 minutes with a tremendous goal. HUTCHINSON turned on the left then hit an unstoppable twenty five yarder into the opposite top corner of the net which had McKeown clutching thin air.
Captain Liam Needham then forced a way through the Mariners defence, his shot being deflected narrowly too high.
Kennedy held a well struck drive from Paul Bignot but was beaten in the 32nd minute when NEILSON cleverly took on the Matlock back four to side step Kennedy and knock home a low shot.
Craig Disley glanced a header wide when well placed and Kennedy was out quickly again to deny Ironside, before offering a few angry words of wisdom to his defenders, but Matlock could be happy with their efforts so far as the interval arrived.
The chances dried up somewhat after the interval until the 72nd minute when Stokes cleverly beat his marker on the left to cross low into the danger zone and OSBORNE, after originally looking to have lost the ball, found it again to net from close range.
Neither goalkeeper was troubled afterwards and as Grimsby battled in vain for a late leveller, Micky Harcourt and David Haggerty made typical interceptions to preserve an excellent Matlock win.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Phil Roe (21 Joe Leesley 63) 4 Josh Meade (16 Alex Hewitt 82) 5 Adam Yates (18 Deano Freeman 87) 6 Oscar Radford 7 Liam Needham (12 David Haggerty 63) 8 Jason Stokes (17 Oliver Brock 87) 9 Ben Hutchinson (15 Jordan Snodin 74) 10 Leon Osborne (19 Matty Andrews 82) 11 Corey Gregory (14 Lavell White 63) Sub not used: 13 Matty Leese
GRIMSBY TOWN: James McKeown Paul Bignot Caine Winfarrah Carl Magnay Chris Doig Scott Brown Craig Disley Craig Clay Scott Neilson Ross Hannah Joe Ironside SUBS: Callum Bostock, Ellis Humble, Aswad Thomas, Paddy McLoughlin, John Lennell-Lewis, Paul Walker, Aristotra Nsiala, Shaun Pearson.
REFEREE: T Bramall )Killamarsh) ATTENDANCE: 234