A massive crowd of 1,661 witnessed Chesterfield being made to work hard for a 3-1 victory in the furnace at the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on Tuesday night and lift the Autoworld Stoneacre Cup.
Spireites’ summer addition Kristian Dennis proved to be a real menace to the Gladiators with a first half double.
Substitute Ted Cribley halved the deficit midway through the second half for the hosts but a thumping header from veteran skipper Ian Evatt confirmed the visitors’ win five minutes from time.
Chesterfield fans hoping to see a debut from Ched Evans were to be disappointed as he missed out through injury.
Matlock took a look at Gainsborough midfielder Charlie Binns and went for a 3-5-2 formation with Adam Yates, Dwayne Wiley and Nico de Giralamo in front of veteran goakeeper Phil Barnes who made a first start for the hosts.
A Dennis header was comfortably wide in the first attack of note in the fifth minute as in an even start, both sides were a touch tentative in the searing heat.
Referee Chris Ward suspended play sensibly for the first of a number of drinks breaks and when Matlock were awarded a 24th minute free kick, Wiley rose majestically to head goalwards, the ball spinning off a visiting defender for a corner which was cleared.
There was little to choose between the sides until the Spireites increased the tempo when in a sharp move down the right, Simmons fed O’Shea who in turn set up Denni to fire low past Barnes on 34 minutes.
McManus then thwarted Dennis after tricky footwork by O’Shea but Chesterfield scored again with four minutes of the opening half remaining, Dennis this time glancing a fine header beyond Barnes at the near post from Dan Gardner’s right wing centre.
A two goal difference appeared somewhat harsh on Matlock who at half time brought on Cribley for Binns, before making four more changes within another ten minutes.
And Cribley scored probably the goal of the night two minutes later, turning neatly after a throw on the left to curl a delightful shot over Ryan Fulton from the corner of the penalty box.
Now it was game on and having broken their scoring duck in the pre season campaign, Matlock sensed they could find further joy.
Ryan King flicked his header wide with Andy Todd behind him arguably better placed before from a free kick Adam Yates saw his header deflected narrowly off target as Matlock attacked with vigour and purpose.
But the match clincher came from a free kick at the other end when Wiley sent Curtis Morrison crashing to the turf and from Connor Dimaio’s excellent delivery, Evatt’s header bulged the net to finally quash Matlock hopes.
MATLOCK: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marshall (17 Jamie Yates 65) 3 Alex Pursehouse (16 Andy Todd 67) 4 Adam Yates 5 Dwayne Wiley 6 Nico de Giralamo 7 Charlie Binns (14 Ted Cribley 46) 8 Laurie Wilson (12 Nicky Travis 55) 9 Marc Newsham (Korey Dyer-Stewart 55) 10 Jake Green (15 Ben Partridge 55) 11 Niall McManus (18 Ryan King 55). Subs not used: Keenan Layton, Ashley Bartle, Arel Amu, Jack Siddall, Jordan Pierrpoint.
CHESTERFIELD: 1 Ryan Fulton 2 Liam Graham 3 Dan Jones (14 Derek Daly 67) 4 Charlie Raglan, 5 Ian Evatt, 6 Dan Gardner (21 Curtis Morrison 58) 7 Connor Dimaio 8 Ryan Hall (15 Richie Humphreys 28) 9 Rai Simons (18 Laurence Maguire 72) 10 Kristian Dennis (16 Ricky German 57), 11 Jay O’Shea ( 17 Jake Beesley 72).
REFEREE: Chris Ward (Worksop).