Two goals inside the final three minutes made it a harsh looking scoreline as far as Matlock were concerned in this hastily arranged extra friendly outing with Mansfield Town at the DCJ Group Arena on Tuesday night.
Stags, one of the favourites for the League Two title, brought a strong first team squad with their attacking players being considered as the ones that may start in their season’s opener at Crewe on Saturday week (August 4).
The Gladiators fought hard and matched their full time opponents for long periods, but the Stags looked sharp and determined to put their 4-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest on Saturday firmly behind them. And did so with a 4-0 win of their own.
The visitors’ final three goals came after Matlock had been reduced to ten men, Callum Lloyd seeing red on 58 minutes for a reckless challenge on Jacob Mellis which caused a melee in which Lloyd finished with his shirt ripped from his torso.
The match had been simmering as no quarter was asked or given by either side, and while Lloyd would have gone anyway in a league or cup game, it remains a mystery how Mansfield kept 11 men on the field.
Mansfield started at a furious tempo. Matlock stopper Phil Barnes was at full stretch to tip Hayden White’s shot over the bar, Paul Digby volleyed against the crossbar from the resulting corner.
Shaun Harrad sent a shot narrowly beyond the far post as Matlock looked to get a footing but in the very next minute Mansfield took the lead. Paul Anderson setting up Lee Angol to prod in the easiest of finishes.
After Barnes saved well from Anderson, Matlock could easily have found a 53rd minute leveller when Harrad, clear of his marker with only Bobby Olejnik to beat volleyed first time but a yard wide of the far post.
The sending off made Matlock’s task all the more difficult but to their credit, they stuck manfully to their task, although they were indebted to the woodwork again when Anderson’s shot struck the bar.
Will Atkinson made it two on 72 minutes in a move involving Mal Benning and Danny Rose before two late goals followed.
Mellis combined with Atkinson to push the ball in despite Joe Doyle-Charles’ best attempts to keep the ball out and then Matlock felt hard done by again when Angol looked to impede Degirolamo before slotting a low shot under Barnes.
MATLOCK: Barnes, 2 Trialist (Marsden 64), Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates (Degirolamo), Wiley (Hunt 87), 7 Trialist (Jordan 60), Lloyd, Harrad, Cribley (Edgson 85), Sharpe. Subs not used: Rose, Pierrpoint. Att: 349.