Matlock halted their three-game losing run in style as they finished comfortable 3-1 winners in the Non League Day derby with Mickleover Sports at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
Dan Bramall, back from suspension, got the ball rolling with his fourth-minute strike.
Although veteran striker Lee Hughes equalised in the 33rd minute, Matlock were back in front by the interval through Luke Hinsley.
Sam Scrivens made the points safe seven minutes into the second half.
Mickleover, whose upturn in form had seen them rise to second spot, included former full-time professionals Hughes, Pablo Mills and Stuart Beavon in their starting line-up.
Matlock, seventh before kick-off, could not have wished for a better start.
Attacking the Town End, Scrivens on the right flank slipped a pass inside for the supporting Luke Dean, whose low cross bypassed Marcus Marshall but found Bramall in space to slide a low precision finish into the bottom corner.
It might have been double trouble for Mickleover in the 12th minute as Bramall skipped beyond Durrell Berry to hoist in a cross which Hinsley, under pressure from Greg Young, glanced wide. Two minutes later Marshall has an effort blocked following a fine break instigated by Scrivens and Hinsley.
Mickleover fought back after being outplayed in the opening exchanges.
Jon Stewart made a fine fingertip save to push a Hughes header over the bar in the 26th minute, before four minutes later Mills rattled the bar direct from a free kick.
But it would be third time lucky for the Gladiators in a spell of pressure when Hughes powered a header past Stewart from Richard Batchelor’s cross from the right.
However, a gritty and determined Matlock responded in the best possible way.
Dean’s shot from distance was fingertipped over the bar by Jones, who then fielded a low effort from the edge of the box from Dwayne Wiley.
A crucial moment came when the Gladiators regained the lead a minute before the break.
Again Scrivens and Dean were involved in the build-up, Scrivens releasing Dean down the inside right channel for Dean to cross low for Hinsley, who shook off Mills to turn and squeeze a low close range shot under Jones.
Matlock attacked again for Bramall to find the overlapping Ben Gordon, but his cross was knocked behind.
This came after Stewart had held a Young effort from a Sports free kick.
Visiting captain Jake Scott was a touch fortunate not to see a red card for the second successive season at Matlock for an elbow on Josh Lacey as a highly enjoyable first half drew to a close.
At the start of the second period Sports were awarded a free kick 35 yards out. It was again taken by Mills with Stewart producing his second fine save of the contest, clawing the strike over the bar.
After Marshall was booked for the Gladiators for a challenge on Young, the hosts turned the screw and Hinsley watched as Jones dropped on his low 25-yarder before the goalkeeper was beaten when Scrivens got the goal he deserved.
Collecting the ball from Hinsley deep out on the right, he accepted a return back heel from Marshall to cut in and rifle home a fine 15-yard finish, which put Matlock virtually in complete control.
Young, Derry and Batchelor joined the cautions count as Matlock treated the 729 crowd to some champagne stuff.
Bramall scampered away on the left, his short cross being stepped over by Dean for Marshall’s measured shot to curl narrowly wide of the far post. Then from another Bramall break, Hinsley hooked off target before Young was forced to head behind a Marshall centre that was destined for the unmarked Hinsley.
Further goals might have come from Scrivens, who had a fine strike kept out by Jones, and Harris, who drove tamely at the Sports custodian after substitute Crouz and Gordon had linked nicely down the left.
All in all it was Matlock’s best performance at home of the season.
“It was without any shadow of a doubt,” agreed manager Steve Kittrick afterwards. “I keep saying it, the first and last 10 minutes of each half can win you games, look when we scored today.”
Sports boss John McGrath accepted that his side had been well beaten in the end.
“We lost to a better Matlock Town team, we weren’t at the races but wasn’t it fantastic to see a bumper crowd here on Non League Day?”
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Josh Lacey (12 Adam Yates 67) 3 Ben Gordon 4 Luke Dean 5 Bailey Gooda 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Sam Scrivens 8 Spencer Harris 9 Luke Hinsley 10 Marcus Marshall (17 Scott Smith 90) 11 Dan Bramall (15 Piteu Crouz 83) Other subs: 14 Jordan Sinnott 16 James Williamson
MICKLEOVER SPORTS: 1 Lewis Jones 2 Durrell Berry 3 Ben Turner (15 John McGrath(junior) 90) 4 Mason Warren (14 Jiri Boula 75) 5 Pablo Mills 6 Greg Young 7 Max Watters 8 Jake Scott 9 Lee Hughes(16 Nathan Modest 62) 10 Stuart Beavon 11 Richard Batchelor Other subs: 12 Karel Tvorah 17 Ricky Ravenhill
REFEREE: Jamie O’Connor (Chesterfield) ATTENDANCE: 729 BEST GLADIATOR: Luke Hinsley: