by Ian Richardson
Matlock Town 1
The Spireites comfortably retained their stranglehold on the Banner Jones Cup, punishing Matlock for poor defending at a packed Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday night.
With summer at long last arriving and temperatures before kick-off in the late 20s, a bumper 1,349 crowd saw the League Two outfit build up a three-goal interval lead as Scott Boden, Jordan Bowery and Mark Randall, from the penalty spot netted.
The Gladiators pulled one back through former Spireite Gareth Davies three minutes into the second half and should have added a second through Nathan Joynes shortly afterwards. But then a brace from Mark Richards, the second another spot kick, rounded off the scoring.
With Chesterfield in their traditional blue and white strip, Matlock switched to tangerine and black and they immediately won a corner which was easily cleared. But there were soon signs that Chesterfield had the ammunition to break through the hosts’ defence as Bowery and Boden both fired off target and Boden flicked a header straight at Jon Kennedy from his strike partner’s cross.
Gladiators’ trialist Martin Foster superbly charged down a Randall strike and Kennedy held Jonathan Wiafulla’s strike before a scruffy Boden goal arrived on 25 minutes. A lack of talking in the non leaguers’ defence saw the ball ricochet about and leave Boden with one of the simplest goals he will ever score, turning and prodding home from two yards with Kennedy stranded and Adam Yates and Laurence Gaughan looking at one another.
Matlock played some tidy football going forward but seldom suggested that they had the firepower to trouble the Chesterfield defence. When the Gladiators reached the edge of the Spireites penalty area, all too often the wrong option was taken as promising moves petered out.
Yates did just enough to put off Wiafulla, who skied an effort high over the bar and Bowery was high and wide from the left before he doubled the visitors’ lead with a clinical finish from Boden’s assist after 38 minutes. Two minutes later, it was 3-0 as referee Alix Pashley tried to play advantage after Lee Featherstone caught Wiafulla late but when Wiafulla tumbled, he had no option but to point to the spot. Randall’s cheeky dinked spotkick eased into the central roof of the net.
Both sides made a raft of substitutions and there was a glimmer of hope for the Evo-Stik Premier Division side. Davies took a free kick quickly and Richard O’Donnell could only stand and watch as the ball skidded past him. Three minutes later, Joynes could have made life a touch uncomfortable for Chesterfield, who surrendered possession embarrassingly from their free kick, allowing Joynes to steal possession and then frustratingly place his shot wide in a one-on-one with O’Donnell.
But Chesterfield regained their three-goal advantage on 62 minutes thanks to a splendidly executed free kick from Richards, whose effort from 25 yards beat Kennedy’s left hand, the goalkeeper being unable to keep the ball out in spite of diving full length.
Almost immediately, a fierce cross drive from Mark Allott rattled the home crossbar but it was soon a nap hand for the full timers as Gaughan’s lunging tackle on Richards was mistimed and, after picking himself up, the new signing from Port Vale sent Kennedy the wrong way with a precision penalty.
Consolation for Matlock came from the gate receipts and other revenue, plus the knowledge that they won’t play teams of Chesterfield’s calibre week in, week out.
But the Gladiators certainly did not do themselves justice and Chesterfield’s clinical display, which will surely have pleased John Sheridan, gave them plenty of food for thought.
Matlock Town: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, Foster, Yates, Gaughan, Grayson, Ashmore, Ellington, McMahon (Joynes 28), Algar. Subs all used during second half: Roe, Davies, Bowler, Ledley, Dennis, Witcombe, Hindley, Laight, Bettney.