Sixteen year-old rookie goalkeeper Jordan Pierrpoint had an afternoon to forget as Matlock’s fourth friendly game in eight days ended in defeat.
Pierrpoint, again standing in for the injured Phil Barnes, was at fault for two of the hosts’ goals and maybe could have done better with another, but as joint boss Craig Hopkins pointed out afterwards, the whole team must take responsibility for the defeat.
“Jordan’s had one of those afternoons, but really it wasn’t good from us all over the park,” he said. “I’d say it was probably our worst performance so far, so it’s a wake up call for us all after doing so well in previous games.”
Matlock had started the better and might have been ahead in the fourth minute when Liam Marsden’s fine pass found the intelligent run of Marc Newsham who was denied superbly by goalkeeper Jamie Green who advanced smartly off his line to beat away the Matlock striker’s powerful shot.
Lawrie Wilson’s 16th minute free kick following a foul on Anthony Griffiths-Junior 25 yards out dipped narrowly over before four minutes later Nicky Travis found space on the left but the angle of difficulty was too much and the move came to nothing.
But Sheffield nearly went in front in the 27th minute as Alex Pursehouse, returning to one of his former clubs, kicked Ross Goodwin’s header off the line. Matlock broke quickly and instantly with Jake Green finding space on the right, his cross being a touch too far ahead of the onrushing Newsham.
The pair looked to combine again on the stroke of half time but a well timed Ishmael Dawson challenge prevented Newsham from heading goalwards.
Jamie Green made another fine stop from a Dwayne Wiley header five minutes into the second half before the world caved in on Pierrpoint and Matlock.
The goalkeeper’s miskicked clearance went straight to Ashley Longstaff, who netted easily for a 58th minute opener.
“Jordan shouldn’t really have had the ball there, so there’s blame to be had elsewhere,” said Hopkins, who three minutes late looked on as Longstaff’s pass found Liam Greenfield, who slid a low finish past the unprotected goalkeeper.
It was three in 12 minutes for Sheffield as Pierrpoint was rooted to the spot as a gentle Will Wraith effort sneaked past him. In between goals two and three Newsham had nodded wide from a Pursehouse centre.
With 13 minutes to go, Newsham though found the net for the fourth successive game, smashing the loose ball into the roof of the net after Jamie Green had failed to deal with a free kick effectively.
Newsham would have been disappointed not to score again two minutes later. Put through by Ryan King, he dragged a left foot shot wide from fifteen yards with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Had that gone in there might have been a grandstand finish but Greenfield spectacularly rounded off the scoring, smashing a 30 yarder past Pierrpoint in the 84th minute.
Late on Jamie Green held a Pursehouse strike and Jake Green went for glory instead of passing to better placed colleagues, his effort soaring high and wide.
So the margin of defeat gives a false impression for on the balance of play a draw would have been about right.
The consolation for Matlock is that there was nothing at stake in terms of league points or cup progress, but the overall assessment for each and every player from their visit to the world’s oldest football club is “must do better.”