A Marcus Harness double, the second coming just nine minutes from time, was enough for Burton to squeeze a victory in a game when Matlock again gave an excellent account of themselves and could consider themselves a touch unfortunate to lose in spite of the Championship newcomers twice striking the woodwork.
Gladiators joint boss Glenn Kirkwood was pleased with Matlock’s display against what he described as the most threatening side Matlock have faced in their pre season schedule. The Brewers included a number of players with first team experience and also included Lloyd Dyer, a forward at Burnley last season, who they are hoping to add to their ranks for their first shot at the second tier.
For Matlock, talisman defender Adam Yates was on holiday and Liam Needham and Ted Cribley were working, but they were still able to employ three central defenders with Liam Marsden joining Dwayne Wiley and Nico de Girolamo. Jamie Yates and Andy Todd played as wing backs while there were starts for Ryan King and Ben Partridge in midfield and attack respectively.
Burton used Dyer extensively early on, his pace causing Matlock problems as he attacked down the left. But it was Matty Palmer who caused the first worrying moment for the hosts with a fine strike well saved by home custodian Phil Barnes. Shortly afterwards King tested Luke Wakeman with a low drive which the Albion stopper kept out to his right before Albion took a 13th minute lead. Palmer threaded a pass through the heart of the Matlock defence and HARNESS left Barnes helpless with a fearsome twenty yard strike which nestled in the corner of his net.
To their credit the Gladiators recovered well and restricted the Brewers threat going forward before equalising in the 27th minute. Wakeman failed to deal effectively with Todd’s cross from the left and MARC NEWSHAM was there to nod home.
Phil Edwards shot too high with Burton looking to regain their lead and after some over elaboration in the home defence, Calum Butcher drove against the bar. De Giralomo’s fine tackle denied Ben Fox a shooting opportunity but overall the Gladiators were holding their own against the best attacking team they had faced so far.
Fox and Butcher cleared the bar with a shot and header respectively before there was some indecision in the visiting ranks when Laurie Wilson’s free kick from the left was left by everyone and bounced narrowly wide.
Barnes then pulled off a brilliant point blank save to not only stop but hold Charlie Gatter’s close range header but Matlock replied positively as a piledriver from substitute Nicky Travis allowed Wakeman to atone for his earlier error and stretch to tip the shot over the bar.
Encouraged by that moment, Matlock came again as Niall McManus sent Jake Green clear, Wakeman advancing off his line swiftly to steal the ball away from the Gladiators striker. A charge down the left by Wiley saw his cross beat everybody before an error in the Albion defence gave Green a great opportunity, Wakeman blocking the shot with his legs. The home crowd sensed Matlock might just sneak the victory and there was another chance as Green stretched to head a Jamie Yates cross wide with Newsham probably better placed behind him.
But it was Albion who found the decisive third goal of a hot afternoon when Barnes brilliantly kept out Callum Reilly’s shot and nearly repeated it from Harness whose shot, unluckily for Barnes and Matlock, crept in off Barnes’ body.
Four minutes later Burton hit the woodwork for a second time as Reilly’s free kick thudded against the bar, the Championship side seeing out the rest of the contest without further alarm.
It was a promising Matlock performance and although results do not matter in pre season, their workrate and resolve on another day might have earned them a deserved draw. .
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Jamie Yates 3 Andy Todd (15 Keenan Layton 71) 4 Liam Marsden (16 Ashley Bartle 86) 5 Dwayne Wiley 6 Nico de Girolamo 7 Ryan King (14 Nicky Travis 46) 8 Laurie Wilson 9 Marc Newsham 10 Ben Partridge (12 Jake Green 46) 11 Niall McManus Sub not used: Jordan Pierrpoint
BURTON ALBION:1 Luke Wakeman 2 Phil Edwards 3 Ryan Delaney 4 Charlie Gatter 6 Callum Reilly 7 Ben Fox (17 Jack Hallahan 77) 8 Matty Palmer (14 Joe Sbarra 88) 9 Calum Butcher 10 Marcus Harness 11 Lloyd Dyer (12 Marcus Dnanga 64) 15 Tom Naylor.
REFEREE: Paul Thompson (Chesterfield).