Both teams were without a win going into Friday night’s clash at a wet Autoworld Arena but Matlock had Jason Stokes on top form to inspire them to victory.
Stokes scored twice in the opening half before Danny Holland’s spot-kick made it three soon after the interval. A rout looked on but a combination of Matlock possibly taking the foot off the gas a little and Barwell, sensing a thrashing, inspired the visitors to hold firm before scoring a consolation through Eddy Nisevic deep into stoppage time.
Matlock recalled Oscar Radford to play a 3-5-2 formation with Micky Harcourt and Joe Leesley in more advanced positions on the flanks. James Ashmore earned a first start of the campaign with Leon Osborne and Corey Gregory being omitted.
Liam Needham was close to an early goal with a fifth minute strike which flashed narrowly wide after a neat centre by Stokes, but the skipper was forced off after 18 minutes in one of a few strong challenges from Barwell.
Jon Kennedy held a Nigel Julien effort on 22 minutes but all that did was to encourage Matlock more and they went ahead on 29 minutes after a fine run and textbook cross from Leesley was headed home by Stokes.
Soon afterwards Stokes, leaning back, lifted a great Harcourt cross too high before Stokes turned provider, but his cross aimed at Danny Holland was well kept out by the long leg of defender Guy Hadland.
Town deservedly doubled their lead on 42 minutes with a cracking goal, superbly created with a plethora of passes and ended by Stokes’ precision finish from Harcourt’s excellent cross.
It was all over by the 49th minute when Danny Jenno fouled Holland and the obvious spot kick was comfortably finished by Holland for his fifth goal of the season.
Almost immediately Jon Kennedy’s superb tip over the bar denied Callum Woodward who had smacked a wonderful effort towards goal, but that was as close as the Canaries came until their late consolation when Nisevic shot low through a ruck of players five minutes into added time at the end.
It had been a feisty affair though bringing six bookings. including Matlock’s David Haggerty and Harcourt as for the second successive season, Barwell’s physical apprioach at Matlock had brought them no reward.
As for Matlock, it showed that they are a capable side on their day, they played some enterprising football and were full value for the three points.
Friday, August 29, 2014:
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Oscar Radford 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Jason Stokes (Niall Dawkins 82) 8 Josh Meade 9 Danny Holland 10 James Ashmore 11 Liam Needham (Leon Osborne 18). Subs not used: Sam Robinson, Matt Andrews, Matty Leese
Barwell: 1 Liam Castle 2 Scott Lower 3 Eddy Nisevic 4 Guy Hadland 5 Danny Jenno 6 Richard Lavery (Ben Love 46) 7 Nigel Julien 8 Callum Woodward 9 Luke Barlone 10 Scott Rickards Oliver Brown-Hill 46) 11 Alex Tomkinson (Aiden Kirby 67). Subs not used: Conor Fulford
Att: 277 Ref: I Johnstone (Leeds)
Star Gladiator: Jason Stokes