Matlock Town hit five on a memorable afternoon as skipper Adam Yates was presented with a watch ahead of his 400th appearance for the Gladiators.
They defeated Sutton Coldfield Town 5-0 without top-scorer Shaun Harrad, sidelined with an ankle injury, and had two new players on the bench — midfielders Nathan Whitehead, from Spalding United, and Adam Etches, on loan from Stockport County.
Matlock fully deserved the margin of victory against a poor Sutton side, who never tested home goalkeeper Phil Barnes in the Evostik Premier Division fixture.
At the other end the visitors’ defence looked shaky and Matlock eventually exploited that to the full.
After going close numerous times it was Harrad’s replacement, Tyler Blake, who started the scoring in the 17th minute, firing low under Alfreton loanee Mason Springthorpe following good build-up play from Ted Cribley and Tyrell Waite.
Sutton rarely threatened with only a deflected 25th-minute strike from Gurjit Singh, who hit a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw against Matlock at Coles Lane in August, that dropped behind for a fruitless corner causing problems.
Matlock only led by the one goal at half-time though as a Michael Williams free kick was held by Springthorpe and Luis Rose shot too high.
Then Yates might have made his afternoon more memorable.
A swift attack involving Joe Doyle-Charles, Waite and Rose saw Cribley’s shot hit a defender and bounce out for a corner, from which Yates saw his header rebound off the post.
Sutton had conceded six at Grantham the previous Tuesday and would have been relieved to be just one behind at the DCJ Group Arena, but they were soon in deeper trouble after the interval.
After just two minutes of the second period Rose cut in from the right to float a marvellous shot over Springthorpe and into the far corner to put Matlock more firmly in command.
It took until the 77th minute for the third goal to arrive.
Cribley was fouled in the area and Williams calmly slotted home the spot-kick.
Williams netted again on 88 minutes, finishing off a cross from Etches, who then showed sublime awareness and skill to glide home the fifth as the game entered its 90th minute.
Unfortunately Whitehead’s debut did not last long as he was helped off with blood streaming from around his eye late on to leave the Gladiators a man short.
It was a much-needed Matlock victory against probably the worst team they have faced this season.
They will now be looking to put an unbeaten run together to climb the table from 14th.
Confidence will have been lifted by such a comprehensive victory and there were signs of a return to the exciting form of last season.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Luis Rose 8 Michael Williams 9 Tyler Blake (14 Nathan Whitehead 74mins) 10 Tyrell Waite (17 Adam Etches 69mins) 11 Ted Cribley (12 Rhys Sharpe 81mins.) Other subs: 15 Niall Flint 16 Jayden Cotterill.
SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN: 1 Mason Springthorpe 2 Brian Smikle 3 Bobby Mossley (14 Nathaniel Kelly 59mins) 4 Reece Webb (17 Francino Francis 74mins) 5 Luis Morrison-Derbyshire 6 Jak Barnes 7 Joseph Sinton (16 Nehemiah Zazi 38mins) 8 Lee Smith 9 Gurdit Singh 10 Kris Taylor 11 Zak Martin. Other subs: 12 Bozhidar Aleksaadrov 15 George Cleet.
REFEREE: Paul Tomes (Sheffield).
BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams.