Matlock Town allowed the Rainworth a way back into Tuesday night’s friendly, a game where they should have been dead and buried, as the Wrens overturned a half-time deficit to record a narrow 3-2 victory.
There is a strong Matlock connection at the Nottinghamshire club. Kevin Gee, a striker with the Gladiators who played in the FA Cup First Round Proper tie at Scunthorpe in November 1989 is their manager, while lining up on the pitch were former Matlock defenders Cameron Fearon and Tommy Hannigan.
And it was Fearon who will fondly remember the game on a Baltic Tuesday night, striking home a wonderful 30-yarder three minutes from time to decide the match.
Matlock asked all the questions in the opening half.
Liam King might have had a hat-trick with steadier finishing while home goalkeeper Ali Barcherini twice had to backpedal to push headers from Laurence Gaughan and King over the bar. In making the first save, he collided with the woodwork and after a brief delay, opted to carry on until the interval before being replaced.
Liam Wilkin showed electric pace to race clear to thread a precision finish past Barcherini in the 18th minute. Five minutes later he was clean through again but blasted wide with only Barcherini to beat.
Gaughan rose to meet a corner to plant a back post header at the overworked goalkeeper on the half hour. Matlock could so easily have been four goals ahead by half time.
In Rainworth’s first attack of mention, Adam Yates cleared off the line from Matt Glass but Matlock conceded two of the sloppiest goals imaginable in the space of three minutes to trail.
On 51 minutes, a long throw from the right was touched home by Romaine Graham. Then a misdirected square pass from a trialist saw Graham release Ben Spargo who tucked his shot easily past an exposed Jon Kennedy.
Matlock still created chances with TJ Nightingale heading inches over from a fine Craig Nelthorpe cross. Then an Algar shot was palmed aside before in successive shots from the same move, Ben Hunter and Chris Bettney struck the bar and post respectively.
Gaughan nodded a whisker wide before a Yates header from a Bettney corner saw Matlock equalise.
But Fearon had the final say, and even though it was only a friendly game, Matlock boss Mark Atkins was far from pleased about losing a game which they ought to have comfortably won.