Matlock produced their best away display of the season on Tuesday night to deservedly bring all three points home from the Weaver Stadium in a 2-0 win at Nantwich.
First half goals from Michael Williams and Ricky German were just reward for an effervescent and energetic Gladiators performance and earn a victory which their fans hope will be a springboard for a good end of season run.
Matlock made three changes from the team beaten at Halesowen. Debutant goalkeeper Richard Walton replaced Jordan Pierrepont with Phil Barnes maybe facing a delayed return after injury while captain Adam Yates and Joe Doyle-Charles were back after illness and suspension respectively as Jan Yeomans and Brad-Lee Gascoigne dropped to the bench.
The small contingent of visiting fans journeyed to South Cheshire probably more in hope than expectation given recent results but they were in for a pleasant surprise.
The dye was probably cast inside the opening 30 seconds as German chased down a Dwayne Wiley through pass and the Dabbers’ nervous goalkeeper, Myles Boney, on loan from Blackpool, headed clear and was fortunate to hear the whistle blow as German jumped with him.
Boney did well to dive at German’s feet a few minutes later but a calamitous mess up with his defenders shortly after presented the Gladiators with a ninth-minute opener - and even then it took a while for the chance to be converted.
German was through after a faulty Boney clearance was cut out, Harrad took over but was crowded out before Williams accepted the responsibility to slide in a low shot from the edge of the box.
The hosts came back into it briefly and Sean Cooke twice went close but in truth Matlock could have had the game wrapped up before the interval with Harrad, German and Curtis Morrison raining shots on the Nantwich goal.
They got the second their play deserved five minutes before half time when Doyle-Charles won possession, Cribley taking over to feed German on the right who comprehensively beat Boney with a fine cross drive into the far corner.
Doyle-Charles forced Boney into a fingertip save while at the other end it took until 85 minutes for Walton to be tested. He somehow changed direction to claw away a deflected effort from Toby Mullarkey before making another first class save from Steve Jones’ header as Matlock saw it out for a first clean sheet since November 25.