Substitute Shaun Harrad hit an 87th-minute winner for a much-changed Matlock Town side, who improved better as the game progressed, in a 2-1 pre-season win over Staveley Miners Welfare.
Staveley, of the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division, put up a good fight and were the better side for the opening third of the contest, taking an early lead and threatening to add to it before the Gladiators levelled in the 32nd-minute.
The Trojans struck from the penalty spot when captain for the night Callum Lloyd upended Tyla Bell and Kurtis Morley converted with ease.
It took until the 15th-minute for Matlock to threaten as Ben Edgson fired into the sidenetting from an acute angle with Jake Green pleading for the ball to be knocked across the face of goal.
Then latest signing Ryan Wilson lifted a shot high over the bar before the hosts came close to doubling their lead. The industrious Morley found Micky Collins with an inch-perfect 40 yards Crossfield pass, Collins shooting narrowly wide.
Matlock forced a couple of quick corners, Edgson miskicking on the turn from the first and Nico Degirolamo heading too high from the second one.
The equaliser came when their miniature trialist striker ran on to a long Todd Jordan pass to outpace Liam Nelthorpe on the left and tuck his shot comfortably passed the exposed former Matlock goalkeeper Matty Leese.
Degirolamo defended well to close down Morley before goalkeeper Jordan Pierrpoint dived to his right to fingertip away a firmly struck low strike from Robson Doolan. Morley fired over the bar after a slip from Degirolamo while at the other end the hosts were at sixes and sevens in defence as they scrambled clear Green’s low ball from the left.
After making four substitutions at the interval, including introducing 16-years-old Harry Wood to make it four former Academy players on the field, Matlock became more businesslike and were knocking at the Staveley door for most of the second half.
Max Hunt’s gentle shot trundled towards Leese when well placed before Wood’s excellent vision nearly brought reward, his threaded pass across the box narrowly eluding Edgson.
A trialist’s free-kick dipped a touch too late before Harrad kept possession brilliantly to feed the trialist who was denied a second goal by Leese’s legs. Harrad turned on a sixpence from a long throw to volley wide before he glanced a cross from the left firmly wide.
But Harrad had the final say. After a number of earlier tangles with home defenders, he was manhandled to the ground for the second spot kick of the game. Leese bravely blocked Harrad’s initial piledriver but the experienced hit man kept calm to steer in the loose ball.
Matlock deserved the win but Staveley deserve credit for their sharp first half display and repelling long periods of pressure after the break.
Staveley MW: Leese, Nelthorpe, Barker, Madin, Hanson, Rawson, Collins, Doolan, Morley, Bell, Mawbey. Subs used: Ellis, Knowles, Fullwood, Shelbourne, Schofield, Barker, Naylor.
Matlock Town: Pierrpoint, Marsden, Wilson (Wiley 46), Jordan, Hunt, Degirolamo, Cribley (14 Trialist 46), Lloyd (Wood 46), Green (Harrad 46), 10 Trialist, Edgson. Sub not used: Barnes.
Referee: Gareth Davies (Derby).