Mauled Matlock Town crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season so far when bullied by a rampant FC United of Manchester forward-line.
Their tormentor-in-chief was Tunde Owolabi, who spearheaded a 5-2 win for United with a tremendous hat-trick to make it a miserable first-ever visit to Broadhurst Park for the Gladiators.
The defeat left Matlock 15th in the 22-team BetVictor Northern Premier League, Premier Division table, and it was hardly the best preparation for this Saturday’s big FA Trophy tie at home to National League Chorley.
But although their defending left a lot to be desired, there can surely be no better striker in the league at present than Owolabi, who could well have Football League clubs knocking on United’s door soon.
Mind you, the game started so promisingly for Matlock because, even though the in-form Piteu Crouz had to limp off with hamstring trouble, they took a seventh-minute lead. Tomas Poole pounced on a weak clearing header and advanced on goal before firing comfortably past ‘keeper Cameron Belford.
United did level almost immediately when an unmarked Chris Doyle stroked a shot past Dan Wallis.
But in the 11th minute, it was 2-1 to the Gladiators as Luke Hinsley created space to find Marcus Marshall, who kept his composure to turn inside a defender and drive into the bottom corner.
It proved to be a false dawn because the game swung dramatically in United’s favour with two goals in three minutes.
First, Owolabi shook off defender Bailey Gooda too easily and cut inside to shoot past Wallis and then Regan Linney cut through the visiting defence to score with a low drive.
Matlock might have equalised when Ben Gordon’s shot was superbly saved and Marshall's rebound effort struck a post.
But in the second half, they could not cope with United's attacking prowess, allowing them far too much space and leaking two more goals on 64 and 84 minutes.
Both were netted by Owolabi, who bulldozed his way through to make it 4-2 and then thumped home an explosive shot off the underside of the bar.
MATLOCK LINE-UP – Wallis (man-of-match)/ Yates, Gordon, Dean, Gooda, Wiley, Poole, Harris, Hinsley (Chilaka 64), Marshall, Crouz (Bramall 6, Tague 63).