Matlock Town 3-0 Kendal Town: Matlock struck a purple patch to score three times in eight first half minutes to push struggling Kendal closer to relegation.
Realistically the Mintcakes needed to pull off a win to stand any chance of avoiding the drop, but once Massiah McDonald had broken the deadlock midway through the first half, the writing was on the wall for the visitors. Martin Foster and Ben Algar quickly added two more to see the fat lady clearing her throat for Kendal.
It was the Gladiators’ best home win of the season and three nil up and deep in the comfort zone by the interval, they ought to have been looking for at least a nap hand of goals. But a combination of Kendal showing some spirit, plus some sloppy play of their own, saw the Gladiators restricted to a three goal margin.
It wouldn’t be a Matlock game without the tale of another injury as Laurence Gaughan was stretchered off with hamstring trouble a couple of minutes before McDonald’s opener. Gauhan will now miss the rest of the season including Tuesday’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Final at Chesterfield.
An inexperienced Kendal looked eager going forward but were sadly naive at the back. Only twenty seconds into the game midfielder Jack Cook shot powerfully at goal only for Town custodian Nick Buxton to get his body firmly behind the strike.
Matlock needed to nip Kendal’s exuberance in the bud and they nearly succeeded in the 10th minute when intelligent play from Lewis McMahon allowed White to stride forward and lob on to the bar.
But Cook wasted a gilt edged chance to shock Matlock on 20 minutes. In a surging break from midfield and noticing that striker and skipper Danny Mitchley had strayed offside, he opted to go solo, but after doing everything right, he screwed wide with only Buxton to beat.
How Matlock made him pay for his wastefulness! Within ninety seconds of replacing Gaughan, Gareth Davies, operating from full back, played a ball forward which McMahon cleverly laid it on a plate for McDonald who left a square Kendal defence trailing to calmly stroke home.
The goal seemed to release the pressure valve as Matlock relaxed and only a quite brilliant instinctive save from Ryan Robinson stopped James Lukic’s volley from doubling his side’s advantage.
But respite was only temporary for Kendal, the resulting 29th minute corner being headed out as far as Foster, twenty five yards from goal and the Town veteran’s controlled low volley whistled past a startled Robinson and just inside his left hand post.
Two soon became three when, after a neat build up, a daisycutter from Algar from the edge of the box ended in a similar spot to Foster’s shot for the former Chesterfield winger’s first goal of the season.
Confidence was bursting out of Algar who tied the visiting defence in knots before looping a clever shot a foot over the bar.
With just pride to play for now, Kendal at least showed some fight, finding the net when Mitchley got the finishing touch to a 47th minute free kick only to see the assistant’s flag raised for offside.
Robinson had a much quieter time after the break than he perhaps feared as Matlock took their foot off the gas and were both careless and unimaginitive which led to a scrappy second half.
Although Kendal had a number of shots, none of them troubled Buxton who could play with a cigar on for much of the contest.
Matlock fell into the trap of sometimes hoofing the ball and also looking for the killer pass when the more simplistic pass and move technique would have been more effective.
Substitute Joe Leesley blazed over when well placed, McMahon screwed an effort wide while Robinson comfortably gathered a long ranger from Algar.
Matlock missed the boat in the second half as a crystal clear chance to reduce the highly negative goal difference fell by the wayside.
James Travis was handed his league debut late on as Matlock kept a clean sheet and also a blank bookings total with Kendal having Zach Clark, Danny Maghan, Adam Freeland and Cook all yellow carded for mistimed challenges.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Nick Buxton 2 Oscar Radford 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Martin Foster 5 Laurence Gaughan (12 Gareth Davies 22) 6 James Lukic 7 Ben Algar 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Lewis McMahon (14 Joe Leesley 57) 11 Lavelle White (15 James Travis 86) Other subs: 16 Will Dennis 17 Matt Leese
KENDAL TOWN: 1 Ryan Robinson 2 Danny Maghan 3 Callum Hoctor 4 Martin Grundy 5 Reese Lee 6 Adam Freeland 7 Cory Vickers (12 Aaron Taylor 46) 8 Jack Cook 9 Danny Michley 10 Simon Rawnsley 11 Zach Clark (14 Ryan Close 75) Other subs: 15 Jonathan McDonald 16 David Foster
REFEREE: J Hayes (Manchester) ATTENDANCE: 223 STAR GLADIATOR: James Lukic