A goal in each half from a trialist and then substitute Josh Batty gave Matlock a comfortable first win of their pre-season programme against their A6 neighbours as they beat Belper Town 2-0 last night.
An encouraging turnout of 211 fans witnessed what was a tight and tedious first half with Matlock eventually turning the screw after the break to earn their deserved victory.
Matlock largely cut out the errors which had blighted their display during Saturday’s defeat at Handsworth but will know, as no doubt will Belper, that they must increase their potency going forward in time for the league campaign.
Goalmouth action was sparse in the opening third of the derby.
Ted Cribley shot wide and skipper Danny Holland fired straight at goalkeeper Dan Haystead when Matlock found scoring opportunities, while at the other end Ryan Pugh held a low drive from Evan Garnett before a jinking run by winger Rob Stevenson came to nothing as his shot swerved horribly wide.
Nailers skipper Laurie Wilson then had a major role in the run up to the interval as his stinging 33rd minute shot from the edge of the penalty box was spectacularly tipped over the bar by Pugh in the game’s best moment thus far. The resultant corner then dropped to Wilson who fired wide from 12 yards.
Joel Purkiss found Holland 10 yards out after a quickly-taken Matlock free kick only for the hosts’ leader to delay shooting and find himself robbed by Phil Watt, who later would be booked for a needless and late tackle on Purkiss.
When Wilson gave away a 40th minute free kick on the right, Belper were punished as Cribley’s excellent curling delivery was met with a bullet header from Matlock’s trialist central defender to comprehensively fly past Haystead.
Liam Needham’s shot drifted a couple of yards wide as the second half progressed with the usual plethora of substitutions by both managers.
The trialist defender came close again with another header from a set piece which flew narrowly wide and Purkiss missed the opportunity of the game when he found himself clear of the trailing Nailers’ defence only to shoot tamely against Haystead’s legs.
Matlock continued to threaten a second goal which might have come when Batty fed Niall McManus who missed his kick completely with the goal gaping.
McManus turned provider to find Josh Meade who fired narrowly too high and then Batty cleverly skipped past Sam Purcicoe on the left to home in on goal only to see teenage substitute custodian Mark Rathbone save well with his legs.
But Batty’s well controlled low shot from an exquisite Meade pass sealed the match for the Gladiators with five minutes remaining.
Some seeds of encouragement for Matlock then but at the same time the realisation that there is still plenty of hard graft ahead before the new season starts in three weeks time.
Both teams are far from being the finished article yet.
MATLOCK TOWN: Ryan Pugh, Liam Gaughan, Oscar Radford, Nicky Travis, Adam Yates, Trialist, Ted Cribley, Liam Needham, Joel Purkiss, Danny Holland, Niall McManus. Subs (all used): Ben Algar, Josh Meade, Josh Batty, Muhammed Sabo, Trialist. Sub not used: Scott Maxfield
BELPER TOWN: Dan Haystead, Sam Purcicoe, Connor Johnson, Josh Marshall, Phil Watt, Jonathan Williams, Laurie Wilson, Gerry Moran, Grant Ryan, Evan Garnett, Rob Stevenson. Subs (all used): Yoyi Kabanje, Lamin Bubacarr Sanyang, Scott James, Scott Taylor, Mark Rathbone, Trialist.
REFEREE: Oliver Bickle (Derby).