Three second-half goals gave Matlock their most comfortable home victory of the season, 3-0 against mid-table Ashton who were a pale shadow of the team that beat the Gladiators 1-0 just seven days earlier.
Michael Williams, Marcus Dinanga and skipper Adam Yates were the marksmen as the victory kept Matlock’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off hopes alive, knowing they needed to go on a winning run to have a chance of making their dreams a reality. Unfortunately, results elsewhere did not go in their favour.
In early pressure from the hosts, Dwayne Wiley nodded their third corner of the game wide after five minutes. Penalty appeals were turned down as Matlock claimed a handball from a Dinanga strike and Cleveland Taylor’s long-distance strike was easily saved by keeper Luke Pilling.
Rhys Sharpe had a better effort from a free kick that Pilling turned over the bar before Ashton were fortunate to still have 11 players on the field when on 37 minutes Jack Dyche’s elbow caught Adam Yates in the face, but the Ashton player received only a yellow card.
The half ended with Sharpe’s speculative effort going wide and the visitors not having a shot at home keeper Phil Barnes.
Matlock striker Dinanga collided with a post two minutes into the second half as Pilling caught a hanging cross from the right, but four minutes later the Gladiators made the vital breakthrough. Taylor hoisted a clever ball into the box and Williams nodded precisely over Pilling.
Wiley went close to doubling the lead in the 56th minute, flicking a header narrowly wide when Sharpe crossed from the left.
Niall McManus, a constant thorn in Ashton’s side, found room behind full back Stephen Mason and Pilling turned away his powerful shot.
It took until the 64th minute for Ashton to have a shot at goal and even then Barnes was not troubled as a diagonal shot from Dyche bounced wide.
Dinanga’s 31st goal of the season on 71 minutes made it 2-0. Put clear by Taylor down the right, he outpaced the trailing Ashton defenders to steer a precise low shot into the opposite corner.
Yates capped his return after injury with his second goal of the season six minutes later, towering above the Robins’ defenders to head in Sharpe’s corner from the left.
Ashton finally offered a threat, Dyche cutting in from the right and getting the better of Yates, but his final low shot was pushed aside by Barnes.
In the closing minutes Marc Newsham headed wide and a volley from McManus narrowly cleared the bar.
MATLOCK TOWN: Phil Barnes, Liam Marsden, Jake Green, Cleveland Taylor (Andy Wright 81), Adam Yates, Dwayne Wiley, Niall McManus, Michael Williams, Curtis Morrison (Marc Newsham 78), Marcus Dinanga, Rhys Sharpe. Subs not used: Joe Doyle-Charles, Nico Degirolamo, Ted Cribley.