Gladiators ease past FC United of Manchester

John Johnston celebrates scoring Matlock's second goal. Photo by Nick Oates.John Johnston celebrates scoring Matlock's second goal. Photo by Nick Oates.
John Johnston celebrates scoring Matlock's second goal. Photo by Nick Oates.
​Matlock finished convincing 3-0 winners over FC United of Manchester on Saturday in their first game since the prolific Jonny Margetts left for King’s Lynn.

​Every player stepped up to the plate as manager Martin Carruthers had demanded in the pre-match build up, three different scorers also highlighting his desire to see goals spread through the team.

Two up at half time through Joe West and skipper John Johnston, Matlock wasted little time in securing all three points when Scott Boden netted early in the second half for as easy a win as they could have hoped for.

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FC United were frankly poor, but that should not detract from an energetic Matlock performance mixed with a blend of physicality and flair to which United simply could not respond.

Johnston was the surprise choice to partner Boden in attack and it worked a treat. With Kornell McDonald and West providing excellent ammunition from the flanks and Nathan Whitehead with Harry Wood bossing the midfield Matlock looked a good side.

Johnston missed a sitter in the fifth minute, somehow scooping McDonald’s cross from the right over the bar when it seemed easier to find the net. Two minutes later Johnston cut in from the left to fire directly at goalkeeper Pat Boyes, the start from Matlock being undoubtedly encouraging.

They made the breakthrough that had been long on the cards in the 17th minute, McDonald’s ball from the right finding West who drilled his shot beyond Boyes.

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Aaron Bennett drove lazily over the bar as Unites sought a reply but West nearly netted again when he met a Johnston cross to fire into the side netting when well placed.

But a picture book goal from Johnston doubled Town’s lead on the half hour, West this time the provider as the skipper stooped to glance home a penetrating ball from the left. Shortly afterwards the livewire Johnston shot narrowly too high with a Whitehead effort being knocked off the line and Fin Armond forcing Boyes into a crucial block to keep Matlock’s advantage down to two.

The Gladiators were immediately on the offensive as the second half got under way, Wood placing a free header wide and Boyes managing a finger tip save to prevent a West volley from nestling in the net.

But there was no respite for the Reds, Adam Yates having a header blocked from a right wing corner, West having a volley tipped aside by Boyes and then Boden showed no mercy as he forced the ball home from inside the six yard box.

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The hosts comfortably dealt with anything United asked of them, Saul Deeney making his one save of the afternoon to claw away a low free kick from substitute Luke Griffiths.

Matlock could have made their lead more emphatic as Fin Armond and Boden both nearly got a third, but everyone of a blue persuasion went home completely satisfied.

A great 1,349 crowd was another plus with both sets of fans cheering their sides on, stood side by side with not a hint of bother. They were a credit to their clubs.