It’s back to the drawing board as far as Matlock are concerned following a 4-0 home thumping which will set the alarm bells ringing around the DCJ Group Insurance Arena.
Two goals in each half, three of them gift wrapped, ensured Nantwich an easy victory, Matlock’s problems being aggravated by the dismissal of skipper Laurie Wilson for retaliation midway through the second period.
By then though, the horse had well and truly bolted through the stable door with Matlock three goals down, with the incessant heavy rain being their only realistic hope of avoiding a miserable defeat.
Five more minutes of the deluge might have brought them some relief. The storm abated though and it left joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins with much to ponder.
They would have been hurt, as the fans were, with a lack of fight, organisation and passion. Matlock could not get the basics right against a hard working but largely ordinary Nantwich outfit who must have been surprised by the ease in which they won.
Only a fine save from Arran Jameson stopped the Dabbers from striking inside three minutes, the goalkeeper blocking a Steve Jones shot following a cross from the left to the back post.
Matlock’s response was initially positive, Michael Williams doing well to keep the ball in play on the right, his cross being volleyed wide by Marc Newsham, but for the most part Matlock’s strike force relied on scraps as the quality of the ball played to them left a lot to be desired.
Wilson then tried his luck from twenty five yards, his powerful drive swerving narrowly wide and Cribley’s run from deep ended with a tame drive straight at goalkeeper Dave Parton.
But once Nantwich had taken a 24th minute lead, there was only one winner. Jones popped up on the left to tease the Matlock defence before an inch perfect low centre found Sean Cooke unmarked for a comfortable six yard finish.
A long range Dwayne Wiley effort sailed high over the bar but Nantwich always looked the more threatening in attack and crucially, they doubled their advantage three minutes before the break.
Having cleared a corner, Matlock inexplicably presented possession back to the visitors and when Ben Harrison nodded Theo Stair;s left wing cross back across the six yard box, Jones was there to bundle home the loose ball and leave Matlock with a mountain to climb.
With the rain pouring down, home spirits were further dampened when Matlock handed Nantwich a third on a plate nine minutes into the second half. A combination of poor defending, compounded by an error from Jameson who failed to collect Stair’s cross enabled Jones to fire home.
Matlock’s afternoon was going from bad to worse, especially when Wilson raised his hands towards substitute Ryan Jackson’s face after a poor challenge by the Nantwich substitute who was booked. Wilson, though was off for an early shower and a three game ban starting this coming Saturday at Warrington.
Another substitute, Josh Gordon then netted a fourth Nantwich goal with eleven minutes remaining, his shot going through the cover of Jameson, who despite the testing conditions, would have been disappointed to have been beaten.
The closest Matlock came to a response was right at the death as Cribley spotted Parton off his line and hoisted the ball over him from inside the Matlock half. The ball struck the post, then Parton and trickled out for a corner.
Therein though lies one of the problems, a long standing one that needs resolving swiftly. In three matches, Matlock have not stretched the opposing goalkeeper, and while they looked solid in the opening two matches, they looked brittle against Nantwich.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Arran Jameson 2 Liam Marsden 3 Dwayne Wiley 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Nico de Girolamo 7 Jake Green (16 Ben Partridge 55) 8 Ted Cribley 9 Marc Newsham (14 Anthony Griffiths-Junior 61) 10 Michael Williams 11 Niall McManus (12 Ryan King 66) Other subs: 15 Andy Todd 17 Nicky Travis
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Dave Parton 2 Andy White 3 Ibou Touray 4 Ben Harrison 5 Mat Bailey 17 Wayne Riley 7 Steve Jones (15 Ryan Jackson 55) 8 Matt Bell 9 Godwin Abakadi (16 Josh Gordon 64) 10 Sean Cooke 11 Theo Stair (12 Osebi Abadaki 67) Other sub: 14 Dave Walker
REFEREE: M. Barlow (Lancashire).
BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates.