Matlock Town 4-0 Lancaster City
Matlock strolled to victory to record their biggest ever opening day NPL win with Jamie Jackson the architect, creating the opening three goals before deservedly bagging the Gladiators fourth.
It was a dream start for Dave Hoole’s men who put a toothless City outfit to the sword but they will also reflect that much sterner tests will be on the horizon.
There were two debutants in the starting line up in Marcus Marshall and Jordan Chapell with three more in Kieren Watson, Adam Smith and Alex Hurst on the bench. Ted Cribley and Chapell were both passed fit with Hoole electing to field assistant boss Shaun Harrad alongside Jackson in attack.
The opening exchanges were scrappy as both sides gave the ball away a little too often but gradually Matlock took control. Dwayne Wiley headed a 7th minute corner over the bar before five minutes later Marshall cleverly made space for himself on the edge of the City penalty box before crashing a powerful shot narrowly wide.
A dangerous Cribley ball into the box earned a corner as it eluded both Harrad and Jackson but the latter pair would feature as Matlock took the lead just before the half hour mark. Jackson cut in from the right leaving two City defenders floundering before a third brought him down to concede a spot-kick which Harrad put away with a low shot under the diving body of goalkeeper Aiden Stone.
Richard Walton comfortably gathered an attempt from distance by Paul Jarvis as City sought an immediate reply but it was soon Matlock asking the visitors more questions as Stone kept his side in contention with a great save from Jackson’s well struck shot.
Jackson wasted little time after the interval in tormenting the visitors who simply could not deal with his pace, trickery and directness.
He raced through down the right on 51 minutes, his stinging shot being blocked by Stone and Harrad following up from a tight angle could not profit.
Chapell then went close with some intricate footwork twenty yards out before curling his shot narrowly wide.
But the important second goal was not long in coming as on 58 minutes Jackson again left the Lancaster defence in his wake before slotting an inch perfect low centre for Harrad to shoot under Stone.
Four minutes later Harrad was replaced by Watson and there would be even more problems for the overstretched Lancaster defence.
Jackson’s flicked header brought an instant volleyed lob from Watson which narrowly cleared the bar before the two combined in similar fashion for the third goal in the 79th minute.
This time Jackson cleverly released Watson who finished with aplomb as his shot struck the far post on its route to goal.
All that was required now was a goal for Jackson and it deservedly came with five minutes left as this time Watson nodded on a long Walton goal kick and the star performer shrugged off a couple of City challenges before cutting inside and firing a rising 15 yard shot into the roof of the net.
It was the icing on the cake for Jackson and Matlock who probably would not dared of dreaming of an emphatic victory like this.
Lancaster City: Aiden Stone, Benjamin Hudson, Paul Dugdale, Simon Wills, Craig Stanley, Steven Williams, Ryan Winder (14 Sam Bailey 72), Charlie Russell, Matthew Blinkhorn, Richard Baker (12 Charlie Bailey 77), Paul Jarvis (16 Thomas Kilifin 46)