Bamber Bridge vs Matlock Town FC
Sir Tom Finney Stadium, IrongateNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
BAMBER BRIDGE 5-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock suffered their heaviest league defeat since April 2019 with an uncharacteristic horror show at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Saturday.
Normally defensively assured, the Gladiators were put to the sword by an energetic Bamber side who looked as if they could score with every attack. Matlock had chances themselves but could not take them and it was a long journey home to Derbyshire.
Goalkeeper Jim Pollard was ruled out through illness so Matlock had to bring in Luke Jackson from Sheffield Wednesday at the last minute but that apart, it was a more familiar line up with Jordan Barnett, Simon Njaria and Bart Cybulski returning to the starting eleven. On the bench was new striker Kieran Brown, signed from Kidsgrove Athletic.
Matlock could not have got off to a worse start being two goals adrift inside twelve minutes.
The first one was an absolute gift and a personal tragedy for debutant Jackson, who failed to deal with a routine back pass and HARRY SCARBOROUGH nipped in to slide Brig in front.
An enthusiatic home side looked to extend their lead and came close when Donovan Lescott escaped on the left to play in Chris Churchman who drove fiercely and narrowly wide from twenty yards.
But Brig had Matlock really on the ropes on 12 minutes when SCARBOROUGH netted again, knocking home the loose ball from close range after Jackson had parried a strike from Fin Sinclair-Smith.
There was a sniff of an opportunity for Matlock four minutes later, Al Byrne being in space on the right but the angle was too acute as his effort rolled across the face of goal a foot or so from the goal line.
Kallan Murphy had a shot deflected wide but Brig penetrated Matlock again on 20 minutes, Lescott forcing his way through too easily before finding Sinclair-Smith who saw his shot well saved by Jackson.
Ryan Qualter had a header which struck a defender to go out for a fruitless corner and a Byrne free kick curled narrowly wide and just out of Murphy’s radar.
Nathan Pond and Danny Forbes both went close in quick succession, Matlock’s frustration being shown with yellow cards for Barnett and Ioan Evans in a four minute period late in the half.
Matlock needed an early response and got it, but the response proved only to be a consolation as they had conceded the nap hand by the 66th minute.
Home goalkeeper Felix Goddard spilled a Byrne free kick just two minutes into the new half, but Evans could only slice the loose ball high and wide. But four minutes later Matlock’s best player on a day to quickly forget, JOHN JOHNSTON ran from deep to confidently round Goddard and slot home to give Matlock and their fans hope.
But it was a false dawn. Nathan Pond had the ball in the net but referee Danny Hitchell had spotted a foul on Jackson but the Gladiators had no comeback when Sinclair-Smith ran at the retreating Town defence to square for LESCOTT who curled a delightful twenty yarder into the far corner.
Johnston was narrowly off target with an attempt from the right but Brig killed the game with two more quickfire goals.
Churchman’s fine Crossfield pass found the overlapping Aaron Skinner whose low cross was tapped in by SINCLAIR-SMITH and then Churchman sent LESCOTT clear and the number eleven made no mistake as he comfortably shot beyond Jackson.
In between goals four and five bright light Johnston was an ace away from converting Byrne’s centre but it would not have made any difference.
The damage had been well and truly done. Barnett fired high and wide from distance in the dying embers but Matlock had been convincingly beaten. They looked off the pace and disorganiised, it was a performance so unlike of Matlock in the last three years.
BAMBER BRIDGE: 1 Felix Goddard 2 Sheldon Green 3 Aaron Skinner 4 Sky Sinclair 5 Macauley Wilson 6 Nathan Pond 7 Fin Sinclair-Smith (14 Noah Alabi 77) 8 Chris Churchman 9 Harry Svarborough (15 Vaughn Green 82) 10 Danny Forbes (12 Rowan Roache 77) 11 Donovan Lescott
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Luke Jackson 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Jordan Barnett 4 Mark Lees (14 Alex Wiles 65) 5 Ioan Evans 6 Ryan Qualter 7 Al Byrne 8 Simon Njaria 9 Kallan Murphy (17 Kieran Brown 65) 10 John Johnston 11 Bart Cybulski (15 Jaz Goundry 75) Other subs: 12 Jorome Slew 16 Akeem Hinds
REFEREE: Danny Hitchell (Wirral) ATTENDANCE: 464 BEST GLADIATOR: John Johnston