Matlock Town put 10-man Radcliffe to the sword to seal Paul Phillips' first win in charge

Nathan Valentine grabs the opening goal for Matlock Town against Radcliffe. Pic: Steven Greenhough.
Nathan Valentine grabs the opening goal for Matlock Town against Radcliffe. Pic: Steven Greenhough.

Paul Phillips’ first win as Matlock manager came in an emphatic 4-0 victory – their most convincing in the league this season – as the ten men of Radcliffe were put to the sword, writes Ian Richardson.

The Gladiators scored twice in each half, Nathan Valentine and Pietu Crouz putting them in cruise control by the interval with two substitutes netting their first league goals in Matlock colours, James Tague making it three before a cracker from Brian Wilson ensured good vibrations around the Proctor Cars Stadium.

Radcliffe, already a goal down, had striker Callum Dolan sent off on 34 minutes for a crazy head butt on Adam Yates who remonstrated with Dolan for flinging himself to the turf in the hope of earning a penalty.

Phillips made a couple of alterations to his starting line up with Tomas Poole replacing Dan Bramall and eighteen years old Elliot Goldthorp, signed on work experience from Bradford City, coming into the midfield for Tague.

Matlock began promisingly again with Goldthorp’s drive from the edge of the penalty box being blocked at the expense of a corner but they were ahead in the 7th minute when the flag kick was partially cleared to Poole who played an exquisite one two with Spencer Harris, Poole’s accurate low cross being met by VALENTINE, who along with Yates and Chib Chilaka, was waiting to convert from close range.

Radcliffe, on a terrible run in the league which had seen a return of only a solitary point from their last seven outings, had their fair share of the play but moves often broke down where it mattered after some attractive approach play. 

Matlock, on the other hand, played more of a typical Northern Premier game, hunting in packs high up the pitch. When Phillips’ men attacked, a goal generally looked likely, while their goalkeeper Jon Stewart had a largely quiet night.

Town thought they had doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Goldthorp’s free kick from the right was headed back across goal for Chilaka to fire home on the turn but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.

Stewart was finally called into action in the 28th minute to make a simple catch from a deflected Matty Wolfenden free kick but Town soon threatened again, Harris blasting too high after a Dwayne Wiley cross was punched out by goalkeeper Oliver Martin which was quickly followed by Chilaka comically slicing several yards wide.

After Dolan’s dismissal which also saw two on the Radcliffe bench cautioned, the Gladiators gave themselves extra breathing space when two minutes before the interval, Valentine finding CROUZ with a penetrating ball to the left, the Nigerian taking it in his stride to power his shot past Martin.

Stewart’s only meaningful save of the night came a minute later as he confidently kept out a strike from Douglas Nyaupembe, there still being time before the half time whistle for Raheem Hanley to be booked for fouling Valentine.

Former Gladiator Harry Winter mysteriously escaped punishment for a poor tackle on Dwayne Wiley before the hosts lost Harris with a suspected broken nose.

At this point Radcliffe were enjoying good spells of possession but had no cutting edge. 

Matlock were still creating chances and with better choices, might have put the game to bed. Poole twice dragged shots wide after electing to shoot early and Crouz would have been better crossing instead of pulling the trigger, Martin saving comfortably at his near post. Martin also did well to prevent Chilaka’s near post header from a Yates cross.

Callum Grogan’s foul on Chilaka, who led the line superbly with little luck, saw another Radcliffe booking before Matlock finished strongly.

Chilaka collected a misplaced pass to surge into the area, Martin getting a hand to his shot which looped goalwards and  bounced off a post before a foul by Crouz ended the threat.

But the third goal came on 87 minutes, Crouz slipping a neat through pass towards TAGUE whose sliding challenge seemed to surprise Grogan before firing low into the onion bag.

The best though was left until last. Matlock still hunting like hungry wolves had Radcliffe stuck in their den, a scuffed clearance from Matt Hughes falling to WILSON who curled a magnificent shot into the top corner from 22 yards.

Radcliffe’s night was epitomised as Darren McKnight dramatically slumped to the turf after Chilaka stuck out his chest, Chilaka picking up a yellow card and McKnight suitably embarrassed.

After going five games without a win since victory at Bamber Bridge on December 21 this was a timely and vital three point haul for Matlock. There was a togetherness in their side, a sense of purpose, sheer hard work and tenacity which they now need to maintain to move away from the relegation area.

MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Adam Yates 3 Dwayne Wiley 4 Luke Dean 5 Spencer Harris (17 Ben Gordon 60) 6 Bailey Gooda 7 Piteu Crouz 8 Nathan Valentine (14 James Tague 84) 9 Chib Chilaka 10 Elliot Goldthorp (16 Brian Wilson 66) 11 Tomas Poole Other subs: 12 Dan Bramall 15 Sam Scrivens

RADCLIFFE: 1 Oliver Martin 2 Douglas Nyaupembe 3 Raheem Hanley 4 Harry Winter 5 Matt Hughes 6 Callum Grogan 7 Matty Wolfenden (12 Matthew Crothers 69) 8 Darren McKnight 9 Elliot Rokka (17 Rhian Hellawell 79) 10 Callum Dolan 11 Connor Hughes Other subs: 14 Tom Brown 15 Astley Mulholland 16 David Swabu-Neaun

REFEREE: Jamie O’Connor (Chesterfield)  ATTENDANCE: 297 BEST GLADIATOR: Nathan Valentine