Matlock Town 1-4 Sheffield United
Three months and a day previous to Tuesday’s pre season clash, Jamie McDonagh was striking gold for Matlock with a hat-trick in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final.
This time the under 21 Northern Irish international was punishing Matlock, netting a brace and coming within a lick pot paint of a treble as a strong Blades outfit, including at least seven players with first team experience earned a hard earned win with the final scoreline possibly being a touch harsh on the Gladiators.
McDonagh, of course was one of three United loanees who played pivotal roles in Matlock’s Premier Division successful survival battle last term, but the other two, Otis Khan and Julian Banton, were being held over to face Macclesfield twenty four hours later.
McDonagh began on the bench but was only there for ten minutes as he was sent on in place of Matty Done, who was helped off and taken away to hospital by ambulance with a broken collar bone and shoulder injury following an accidental collision with Adam Yates.
Seven minutes later he had punctured a bright start from the hosts who struggled to clear arguably United’s first attack of any penetration, the ball dropping kindly to McDONAGH six yards out to blast beyond goalkeeper Lewis King.
The first glimpse of an opening had come Town’s way when following some crisp passing, Joel Purkiss attempted to thread a pass inside there penalty box to Danny Holland but United built the blockade to clear.
Diego di Girolamo bent an intelligent effort narrowly wide on 24 minutes but the game was even with goalkeeper George Willis having to stretch to punch clear a Ted Cribley corner before a heavy touch from Purkiss saw United breathe again when he had been played clear by Holland. His shot was yards off target when Willis confronted him on the edge of the box.
Cribley was having a splendid game with former United midfielder Nicky Travis also impressing for the hosts. The former played in McManus whose teasing cross bound for Holland at the far post was superbly headed clear by Ben Whiteman.
The opening half came to a close with Matlock probing again and McManus seeing his shot charged down as the visitors defended well again.
United would strike the woodwork three times in the second half, firstly on 48 minutes as Cribley’s timely intervention saw di Girolamo’s shot skim off the bar.
McDONAGH doubled the lead six minutes later with another close range finish, this time after substitute C J Hamilton had crossed accurately from the left.
Di Girolamo, whose father Cosimo had a spell with Matlock twenty five years ago, prodded another effort inches past the post before Matlock’s most productive spell saw them halve their deficit.
Yates headed a foot too high on the hour and when Cribley fed McManus on the left, the winger’s cross flew across the six yard box. A twenty five yarder from Josh Batty was again close before the pressure was rewarded in the 66th minute as HOLLAND’s firm header finished off a delicious Ben Algar cross from the left.
McDonagh’s fierce header left the bar bouncing three minutes later as did a di Girolamo free kick, but Matlock’s excellent fitness level was also keeping them in contention until United added two late goals amongst a flurry of home changes.
King looked to be impeded at an 80th minute corner which DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN softly converted and naivety on young substitute Jack McCarthy’s part enabled Di GIROLAMO to win and convert an 88th minute spot kick.
It proved to be a good workout for Matlock who were excellent at times, but again need someone to finish off those chances. McDonagh reminded them of the good spell from the end of last season.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Nicky Travis 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Danny Holland 11 Niall McManus Subs: Josh Batty, Liam Gaughan, Josh Meade, Jack McCarthy, A Trialist.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: George Willis, Andrew Cartwright, James Wallace, Ben Whiteman, Kieran Wallace, Stefan Scougall, Matty Done, Louis Reed, Diego di Girolamo, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Connor Dimaio.
Subs: C J Hamilton, Jamie McDonagh, Kier Heh, David Brooks, Jake Eastwood,
REFEREE: Nick Hopton (Derby) ATTENDANCE: 416