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BUCKS DEFEAT GLADIATORS IN OPENING PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY


Local rivals Buxton lifted the Markovitz Challenge Cup on Friday evening following a 1-0 victory in the inaugural contest for the new trophy between the Bucks and Matlock Town. A scrappy goal in the early stages of the game from former Chesterfield attacker Jack McKay was the difference between the two sides in what was a very tight and even game. This was Matlock's first pre-season friendly ahead of the highly-anticipated 2022/23 campaign and saw plenty of new faces and substitutions throughout the match. Considering this was the very first pre-season friendly for both sides, it was a very lively start to the game. The Gladiators spurned a golden opportunity to take the lead after only seven minutes played. A perfect left-wing delivery from Alex Byrne found Callum Chippendale with the goal at his mercy. However, it took the midfielder some time to get the ball out from under his feet and by the time he was able to shoot from ten yards out, Theo Richardson was able to block the effort in Buxton's goal. Matlock were left to rue that missed chance when the hosts took the lead just five minutes later. With plenty of bodies filling the penalty area following a corner, Jack McKay managed to get the last touch to bundle the ball over the goal line from close range. It was a very sloppy goal to have conceded which would not have pleased Matlock gaffer Paul Phillips. Callum Chippendale had another big opportunity to score midway through the first half. In the 22nd minute, he found some time and space to shoot from 14 yards out but his rapid effort was blasted wide of the post when he really should have at least hit the target. The rest of the first half felt much more like the early pre-season friendly that it was as both teams struggled to find any rhythm and the ball was shared around both team's midfield departments.








The second half carried on in the same vein; this was to be expected though with both teams making a host of substitutions, as is customary for such an early game. The Bucks managed a good effort nine minutes into the re-start when the best passing move of the whole game led to a 22 yard effort from James Hardy which flew narrowly over the bar. Jesurun Uchegbulam was introduced as a substitute very early on in the second half and he came close to an equaliser just before the hour mark when his effort from the edge of the penalty area was dragged wide of the post following a dazzling run to the centre of play from the left wing. Buxton's best opportunity to double their advantage arrived in the 66th minute. Centre-half (and new captain) Ryan Qualter made an excellent block to deny a close-range Bucks effort. The follow-up effort was rocketed low towards goal but the new Gladiators goalkeeper Jim Pollard did very well to not just save but hold onto the ball too. Matlock created a couple of chances in the final five minutes of the game in their bid to grab a late equaliser. Another surging run from Uchegbulam found him at the edge of the penalty area but his effort was curled wide of the post. With one minute of normal time remaining, Alex Wiles had a free header from a corner but his effort sailed a long way wide of the post. Shortly after the final whistle, Buxton lifted the Markovitz Challenge Cup in front of a crowd of 501. For the Gladiators, Paul Phillips's side have an extremely quick opportunity to bounce back from this derby defeat as they travel to Northwich Victoria for their second pre-season friendly on Saturday afternoon. Matlock Town team: Pollard, Ferguson, Higgins, Evans, Qualter (c), Lees, Byrne, Lenighan, Day, Chippendale, Opoku. Used subs: Webb-Foster, Daly, Potts, Wiles, Uchegbulam, Reynolds, Blakeley, Trialist, F Phillips. Attendance: 501 GLADIATOR OF THE MATCH: Alex Byrne Paul Phillips Quotes: "This game was just minutes in the legs. We're about a week or so behind Buxton with their league start being a week earlier than ours. A lot of our lads were given opportunities in the later stages of the game. It looked like our first pre-season game. Things that would normally come naturally, didn't really happen. We had a few good chances though. It was a sloppy goal that we conceded. It was a good work-out though. Most lads have had 50-60 minutes under their belt. It's just a matter of building the momentum up and familiarising people with each other. It's a game that's come very early for us but there are positives to take from this." "I think we had two or three really good chances in the early stages of the game. We just didn't put them in; I thought it was deja vu going back to last season! A lot of the game was about giving new players the opportunity to impress. It'll be the same scenario for the game tomorrow against Northwich." "Realistically, we didn't really want to play games this early on; but I'm glad we have now because I've already seen who I want to take forward and who I'll have to leave by the wayside."

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