by Ian Richardson
Belper Town 0-5 Matlock Town
Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Ben Algar (Kris Bowler 77), Liam King (Gareth Davies 57), Simon Sturdy, James Lukic, Chris Bettney (Kris Witcombe 77), Lee Whittington (Nathan Joynes 57), Tyeisse Nightingale, Steve Warne (James Knowles 70) Ryan Mallon (Lee Featherstone 46)
Referee: A Pashley - Chesterfield
Star man: Tyeisse Nightingale.
Matlock rounded off their pre-season programme with a comprehensive victory against their local rivals, thanks to a powerful second half performance.
Only a Chris Bettney spot kick separated the sides at the interval but then a Tyeisse Nightingale brace, plus strikes from Gareth Davies and Steve Warne, saw Matlock complete their nap hand.
The size of the win should bolster confidence in the Gladiators’ ranks but it might have been different as the visitors got off to a sloppy start and could have been behind inside the first 20 seconds.
A comedy of errors in their defence eventually saw the ball scrambled away from former Gladiator Lee Morris and Ben Spargo at the expense of a corner.
The match had been largely uneventful in the opening exchanges but a rash challenge by home goalkeeper Tom Stones on Nightingale saw him drag the Gladiators’ centre forward to the ground and Bettney made no mistake from the spot on 15 minutes.
Almost immediately, Belper’s best player, midfielder Deon Meikle, drove wide from distance but the goal had obviously helped Matlock, who looked a more businesslike outfit as the half progressed.
Both Lee Whittington and Liam King had shots blocked after neat build-up play by Warne and Nightingale.
Then Stones struggled to hold another King strike but Matlock might have been pegged back had not Jon Kennedy superbly tipped a Meikle shot around a post.
With the second half seven minutes old, the second goal arrived and it was a beautifully constructed effort. Bettney and Nightingale combined sweetly on the right before the s low cross was finished off by Warne from six yards.
Morris curled a free kick against the stantion but by the hour the Gladiators had struck twice more. Nightingale cut in from the left and his shot took a huge deflection to loop over Stones. Then a quickly-taken free kick fell to Davies, who had only been on the field for three minutes, and he chipped nonchalantly over Stones.
Then it was a case of how many goals Matlock could add and the nap hand might have come by the 75th minute but Stones saved superbly from James Knowles.
James Lukic burst through from deep to fire goalwards to produce an excellent save from Stones who then pushed out an effort from Nathan Joynes.
Nightingale’s 88th minute header ended the scoring and ensured Matlock go into the new season in fine spirit.