Matlock Town’s ten game unbeaten run came to a resounding halt as South Shields emphatically maintained their 100% home league record with a resounding 5-0 win.
The Gladiators journeyed north as the Evo-Stik League’s most in-form team, but a three goal blast from the hosts inside the opening 27 minutes completely destroyed any hopes Matlock had of extending that sequence.
The object of the exercise then was damage limitation and Dave Frecklington and his men had no complaints with the outcome.
“No arguments,” he tweeted. “Beaten by the better team. Can never fault theMatlock Town workrate. Those GPS stats would’ve been off the Richter Scale.”
Matlock ended up on the receiving end of a special Shields performance on their Jack Fada Day, when they remembered a ten-year-old avid supporter who died of a heart condition a year earlier, and his mother who passed away with the same diagnosis just a week afterwards.
Shields clearly wanted to make it a day to remember, having also felt a sense of injustice at being knocked out of the FA Trophy in controversial circumstances the previous week.
They were protecting a 100% home record as well, meaning Matlock could feel they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shields opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Lee Mason bore down on goal down the left and rounded keeper Ross Durrant. The shot was cleared off the line but only as far as Carl Finningan, who whipped his shot into the top corner.
Fantastic approach play resulted in the hosts doubling their lead in the 21st minute.
In a terrific move down the right, Mason drove low across the box for Gavin Cogdon to sweep home, although some observers had it as a Dwayne Wiley own goal.
Shields were in almost full command and Matlock were looking down the barrel of a heavy defeat.
It was three for Shields on 27 minutes with this time there being no doubt that Cogdon was the marksman, running on to a precision pass from Blair Adams that completely cut open Town’s shell-shocked defence once more. Cogdon’s chip past Durrant was inch perfect.
A nightmare half for Matlock could have been worse as Bradley Beatson headed a Robert Briggs free kick over his own bar and a Briggs corner was headed against his own bar by a Town defender before Durrant, in discomfort from an earlier knock, saved superbly from Cogdon.
Seven minutes after the restart there was more pain for Matlock as Jon Shaw, who scored a last-minute winner in an FA Trophy tie for Luton at Causeway Lane in December 2012, was left with a free header from a Briggs free kick to power the ball home for Shields’ fourth.
A curled free kick from Westcarr was too high in brief respite for Matlock with Shields again breaking with devastating pace for Finnigan to shoot over the bar.
Matlock threatened a reply on 63 minutes when Westcarr stretched to divert a Beevers cross against a post before headers from both Michael Hollingsworth and Marcus Marshall dropped harmlessly wide.
Shields looked for more goals with an Adams centre being knocked clear and Mason twice going close before a strike from Craig Baxter was kept out by Durrant.
However, poor defending allowed David Foley time to turn in a central position and fire past Durrant from a Briggs through pass with five minutes remaining to complete Matlock’s misery.
SOUTH SHIELDS: 1 Liam Connell 2 Craig Baxter 3 Blair Adams 4 Jon Shaw 5 Dillon Morse 6 Philip Turnbull 7 Ursene Mouanda 12 Gary Brown 71) 8 Robert Briggs 9 Lee Mason 10 Carl Finnigan (16 Josh Gillies 59) 11 Gavin Cogdon(15 David Foley 64) Other subs: 14 Darren Lough 17 Ben Harmison
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Ross Durrant 2 Taron Hare 3 Brad Beatson (17 Lee Beevers 46) 4 Michael Hollingsworth 5 Dwayne Wiley (16 Ashton Hall 46) 6 Adam Yates 7 Cleveland Taylor 8 Nathan Whitehead (14 Jamie Jackson 71) 9 Craig Westcarr 10 Marcus Marshall 11 Craig King Other subs: 12 Luke Hinsley 15 Tom Davie
REFEREE: John Mulligan (Carlisle) ATTENDANCE: 1119 BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Hollingsworth.