Early goals key to first victory in five for play-off hopefuls
Matlock Town reignited their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off hopes with a 3-0 home win against Stafford Rangers.
The Gladiators wrapped up their first victory in five games in a devastating opening spell, which saw them score all three goals inside the opening 20 minutes.
Matlock could not have wished for a better start as Marcus Dinanga scampered down the left and pulled back a low cross for Michael Williams to sweep home from close range.
Joe Doyle-Charles, who along with the experienced Cleveland Taylor was bossing the midfield, was close to his first goal of the season in the fifth minute, goalkeeper Adam Whitehouse tipping his header over.
But the respite was only brief as Rhys Sharpe netted with a spectacular volley from the edge of the box after Whitehouse punched clear a free kick.
The third goal arrived when Stafford failed to clear Sharpe’s low corner from the left and Dwayne Wiley gained possession 15 yards out, before twisting and turning superbly to fire a daisy-cutter beyond the unsighted keeper.
The visitors wasted a chance to reduce the deficit just after the half hour mark when Jake Green charged down a Jake Heath strike and the referee harshly ruled handball. However, Heath’s spot-kick was tipped around the post by Phil Barnes.
Matlock were soon back on the attack and Marcus Dinanga scuffed his shot before Ted Cribley had a shot well saved.
In a more even second half Taylor drove narrowly over for Matlock after winning possession 30 yards out.
Home keeper Barnes denied Zeph Thomas a 70th-minute consolation in a one-on-one duel, while Taylor again came close to a fourth for the hosts with a fierce 25-yard strike.