Matlock Town 1, Derby County XI 2
Matlock’s final pre-season game ended in defeat by a hard working Rams XI who were stronger throughout.
But it proved to be a useful work out for Mark Atkins’ men just three days before the opening day of the new league season as the Matlock chief utilised the whole of his squad.
Derby had pace on the flank through Kane Richards and strength in attack through trialist Mark McNulty from Scottish side Livingston. And it was Richards who might have done better in only the second minute with a tame mistimed header from a Ben Davies free kick.
But Matlock could and perhaps should have taken a 16th minute lead as a magnificent 50-yard pass from Ryan Hindley saw Grayson break clear but whip his shot beyond the far post with only goalkeeper Matts Morch to beat.
McNulty though got the goal he richly deserved in the 25th minute, sliding home a precision angled finish as he met a cross from the left by Josh Lelan.
A simple but effective move saw the lead eventually doubled to minutes before half time.
Richards was the instigator, beating Dennis and crossing for Finland’s Roope Riski to easily convert from close range at the far post.
The Gladiators made a raft of changes and looked a far more compact unit in the second period.
Martin Foster drove over from 20 yards before a terrific free kick from James Ashmore halved the deficit with eight minutes remaining.
Adam Yates had been chopped down some 25 yards from goal and the former Frickley and Worksop schemer curled an unstoppable shot past the diving Morch’s right hand.
Matlock upped the tempo but Derby held firm to win an entertaining yet competitive affair.
Matlock: Kennedy, Dennis (Harcourt 46), Featherstone (Roe 46), Davies (Foster 46), Gaughan (Yates 46), Lukic (Laight 46), Hindley (McMahon 46), Bowler (Ashmore 46), Leesley (Bowler 68), Grayson, Algar (Ellington 46).