Matlock Town beat Derby County U23's to make it three wins from three
An Alex Byrne brace was sufficient for Matlock to make it three wins out of three in pre season so far as a young Rams side faded after a bright start to Tuesday night’s meeting at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
Derby had gone in front in the 5th minute when talented centre forward Luke Plange found the corner of the net with a fine curling effort from the edge of the box which left the diving Shaun Rowley helpless.
The Rams played some attractive football and it was the sort of test that Matlock boss Paul Phillips expected, a different examination to the physical questions asked by Boston United four days earlier.
Matlock’s first chance in the 10th minute brought about an excellent block save from Harrison Foulkes to deny Alex Wiles after captain Liam Hughes had nodded a cross into his path.
Byrne drove into the sidenetting and Wiles was a whisker away from converting a searching right wing cross from Jesurun Ubechegulum.
Matlock levelled eight minutes before the interval, a superbly executed free kick from Byrne floated into the top of the net with Foulkes rooted to the spot.
Rowley comfortably held a low effort from the dangerous Plange before Foulkes ensured the score remained level, saving at point blank range to keep out a header by Wiles.
The usual plethora of changes were made at the interval and throughout the second period and a change in formation from the Gladiators did the trick.
Ross Hannah was brought on to play alongside Hughes in attack, Matlock’s changes led to them dominating the half while Derby’s saw them lose their way.
Jonathan Wafula saw a shot deflected wide before Wiles had a long ranger kept out by the busier Rams custodian.
Matlock played a pressing game allowing Derby little time and space to move forward, and following typical pressure from the hosts’ midfield, Hannah’s shot took a touch off an overworked Derby defender. From the corner, Matlock looked to have gone in front but Ryan Qualter’s header was ruled out for pushing.
John Pritchard collected an overhit cross from Byrne to return the ball into the box from the left, Hannah stooping to head low with Foulkes managing to scramble the ball clear at the last moment.
But Matlock took a well deserved lead in the 68th minute, along punt forward from their trialist goalkeeper being expertly nodded on by Hughes and Byrne was on to the flick in a flash to confidently lift his finish over the oncoming goalkeeper.
Hannah should have made it three four minutes later, somehow heading a Pritchard cross wide with the entire goal to aim at, Sam Egerton going equally close shortly afterwards with another header from a set piece.
A Derby trialist scuffed his shot wide late on but had that gone in, it would have been totally against the run of the play.
Matlock’s fitness again was clearly evident and their physicality and greater experience shone through in a thoroughly entertaining encounter.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Shaun Rowley 2 Declan Walker 3 Reece Kendall 4 Sam Egerton 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Trialist 9 Liam Hughes 10 Alex Wiles 11 Jesurun Ubechegulam. Subs-all used: Callum Chippendale, Jonathan Wafula, John Pritchard, Cesaire Lingouba, Ross Hannah, Kade Coppin, Trialist G/K.
DERBY COUNTY U23: 1 Harrison Foulkes 2 Reece Brailsford, 3 Riley Moloney, 4 Alex Matthews, 5 Matt Bardell 6 Harrison Solomon 7 Trialist 8 Darren Robinson 9 Luke Plange 10 Ossie Aghitise 11 Seb Thompson Subs-all used: Will Grewal-Pollard, Alfie Roberts, Andres Perez de Gracia, C J Clarke, Trialist, Callum Moore, Eli Christie, Cian Kelly, Zion Dixon, Bart Cybulski, Reece Nicholson-Davies.
REFEREE: Jamie O’Connor (Chesterfield) ATTENDANCE: 396