Sheffield FC 0 Matlock Town 1
by Ian Richardson
David Haggerty’s 30th minute header gave Matlock a deserved win in their final pre-season match on Saturday.
The Evo-Stik NPL First Division South hosts provided a good competitive end to the Gladiators’ warm-up schedule which should put Mark Atkins’ men in good heart for the season’s opener at Trafford this weekend.
Matlock included newly signed striker Zeph Thomas, a St Kitts and Nevis international, in their line up and he certainly showed enough to suggest he will be an asset, linking sweetly with Danny Holland and Jason Stokes.
Stokes was the main danger to Sheffield early on though. He was a threat on both flanks and after a speedy break, it needed a last ditch interception from Jamie Kay to avert danger.
A rare error in the Town defence saw Ashley Longstaff fire wide in the 12th minute, but other than Longstaff putting a free header wide in the 69th minute. Jon Kennedy seldom had a shot to save.
Matlock replied with Thomas firing wide at the near post following a neat move from a corner taken short on the left. Then Stokes was equally narrowly wide with a low drive from the left.
Haggerty’s winner came when he rose majestically to power a downward header past goalkeeper Joe Green, and he nearly added to his and the visitors’ tally on 39 minutes from another corner, this time his powerful header was directed straight at Green.
Town played some neat football down the flanks, and just before the interval Joe Leesley latched on to a neat pass from Stokes but Green dived bravely at the full back’s feet.
A second goal should have arrived for Town just two minutes after the restart when Holland was in acres of space in ten yards out, but it seemed to take an age for Leesley’s hoisted cross to come down, and all Holland could do was fire against the bar.
The chances dried up somewhat after then, although Thomas created one for himself and was unfortunate to see his 20 yarder flash narrowly past Green’s left hand post on 61 minutes.
Sub Corey Gregory screwed a fine opportunity wide and although Tim Whittaker lashed a ball from Mark Fereday harmlessly into the side netting, Matlock ended the contest in control.
Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt (Hewitt 72), Leesley, Meade, Haggerty, Radford, Needham, Stokes (Snodin 80), Holland (Gregory 72), Thomas (Robinson 80), Osborne (Dawkins 58)