David Haggerty’s 30th minute header gave Matlock a deserved win in their final pre-season match at the Coach and Horses on Saturday.
The Evo-Stik NPL First Division South hosts, managed by former Matlock boss Mick Wadsworth and including former Gladiators winger Ben Algar, provided a competitive end to the Gladiators warm-up schedule which should put Mark Atkins’ men in good heart for the season’s opener at Trafford next 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 there would only be one more error, when Longstaff put 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 by the industrious Thomas had pulled a cross back invitingly.
Haggerty did well to head clear a free kick played menacingly into the Matlock box on 27 minutes but three minutes later he made a more telling contribution at the opposite end, rising majestically to power a downward header past goalkeeper Joe Green.
Matlock’s player of the year nearly added to his and the visitor’s tally on 39 minutes when 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 just as the trigger was about to be pulled.
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 twenty yarder flash narrowly past Green’s left hand post on 61 minutes.
Late on substitute 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.
SHEFFIELD FC: 1 Joe Green 2 Rob Ludlam (Matt Roney 71) 3 James Kay (Joe Stacey 58) 4 Max Pemberton (Robbie Cotton 70) 5 Jamie Hadfield (James Knowles 46) 6 Brandon Cardwell 7 Joel Purkiss (Jack Hargreaves 460 8 Richard Stirrup (Tim Whittaker 46) 9 Ashley Longstaff (Mark Fereday 75) 10 Ben Algar 11 James Gregory (Dexter Atkinson 77).
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt (15 Alex Hewitt 72) 3 Joe Leesley 4 Josh Meade 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Liam Needham 8 Jason Stokes (17 Jordan Snodin 80) 9 Danny Holland (12 Corey Gregory 72) 10 Zeph Thomas (14 Sam Robinson 80) 11 Leon Osborne (16 Niall Dawkins 58).