Matlock were good value for their 1-0 derby win at Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground on Monday as they inflicted just a second home league defeat of the season on the Robins.
Charlie Dawes’ first goal for the Gladiators five minutes before half-time was enough to send the points back north and that margin might have been increased with steadier finishing from Mark Hume’s team.
After the disappointment of defeat at home to Buxton in the Boxing Day derby, Hume and the Matlock fans were looking for a positive response, and that is precisely what they got.
A closely contested opening saw little in the way of goalmouth activity as Ilkeston having lost the toss, were forced to kick towards their favoured second half Clocktower Stand end in the opening half.
Their Brazilian goalkeeper Evandro Rachoni claimed he was impeded as his throw only found the busy Craig Nelthorpe whose shot was blocked before the action moved swiftly to the other end. Ted Cribley’s faulty clearance was collected by Joe Doyle whose low shot was comfortably held by George Willis.
But Matlock were tremendously unfortunate not to go in front in style on the quarter of an hour mark when Paling crashed a 30 yard effort against the bar with Rachoni well beaten.
Shortly afterwards a sharp Matlock side had another opportunity with Niall McManus finding space in the box only to shoot into Rachoni’s arms.
Joel Purkiss fired speculatively over and a great leap and header from Liam Needham was claimed by Rachoni before the decisive moment when McManus broke down the right and although his low centre eluded Purkiss, with Dawes picking up the pieces in space to shoot low off a post past Rachoni.
Adam Yates did well to block a strike from Joe Doyle but Matlock threatened again as a Purkiss drive was charged down in the box before the half-time whistle.
Immediately after the resumption there was a promising situation for Matlock when Cribley crossed from the right, but behind Purkiss and the supporting Dawes with Purkiss soon afterwards firing tamely at Rachoni from a difficult angle.
Matlock looked in control and had two penalty shouts turned down by referee Bourne in between a 20 yard scorcher from Dawes, which flew inches too high.
They should have doubled their lead when McManus had only Rachoni to beat but his shot bobbled wide, and another great chance arrived when substitute Dan Cockerline lifted his shot over the bar again with Rachoni left exposed.
The worry in the Matlock camp was the sucker punch, Ilkeston scoring when they should have been dead and buried.
And that fear nearly materialised in the dying stages when Willis did well to tip over Dexter Atkinson’s shot.
But, despite some late pressure, it was a case of too little too late for Ilkeston as Matlock deservedly claimed local bragging rights, completing a league double after an identical scoreline at the Autoworld Arena in August.