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GLADIATORS MOVE UP TO THIRD IN THE TABLE


Matlock Town made it five wins in a row on Bank Holiday Monday with an excellent 3-0 victory over Gainsborough Trinity at the Proctor Cars Stadium. Two goals for loan signing Jerome Greaves and a second half goal from central defender Ryan Qualter lifted the Gladiators up into third position in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Five victories in a row since their opening day defeat at Ashton United leaves Matlock just one point behind top of the table South Shields and local rivals Buxton who occupy second place. It was an excellent performance from the Gladiators throughout the whole game and they never gave a young but lively Gainsborough side much of a look in at any point in the game. Matlock rocketed out of the starting blocks and took the lead just two minutes into the match. The returning Liam Hughes looked to have headed the ball on target from 15 yards out to trouble the Trinity goalkeeper but Jerome Greaves got ahead of his marker to head the ball himself from close range leaving keeper Matt Yates without a chance. This was Greaves's first goal for the club since joining on loan from League One outfit Rotherham United and the 19 year-old was beside himself with joy in his celebrations with his team-mates.


Despite bossing the opening stages of the game, the Yellows did provide Paul Phillips's team with a warning in the 17th minute. Full-back Lewis Butroid fired a 20 yard free-kick on target and looked to be heading in for an equaliser but Gladiators goalkeeper Shaun Rowley dived full length to make a terrific one handed save to palm the ball away from danger. The Gladiators maintained a high tempo though and their pressing game continued to cause their Lincolnshire opponents problems. On the half hour mark, Matlock were rewarded with a second goal and it came in the form of Jerome Greaves once again. The second goal was a superb header from the young striker who used his height advantage and his strength to punish the opposition in clinical fashion. Alex Byrne (yet again already this season) whipped in an excellent cross deep on the right wing and his delivery was met by a fantastic leap from Greaves which took him away from his marker easily and he fired a header past the goalkeeper in a flash to hit the back of the net and make it 2-0. The Gladiators continued to boss the game in the second half and remained firmly in control until the final whistle. Matlock almost made it 3-0 in the 58th minute of the game. Skipper Liam Hughes had the ball at his feet from just 12 yards out with a wall of defenders blocking his path. Hughes thought quickly and played the ball in smartly to Byrne who was arriving in from the right wing. Byrne struck for glory from just ten yards out but Matt Yates came out really well to block the ball with his chest and conceded a corner. The third goal soon arrived though in the 66th minute which all but killed the game off as a contest. Winger Alex Byrne secured yet another assist when his long corner-kick from the left wing found the head of an unmarked Ryan Qualter at the back post and he steered the ball confidently past Matt Yates to make it 3-0 to the boys in blue. Huge credit must go to Qualter who was magnificent all game and was the best player in the game closely followed by another sterling contribution from Alex Byrne. Qualter's best contribution to the game wasn't actually his goal to extend Matlock's lead. The centre-half made an outstanding last-ditch tackle to prevent Trinity from almost certainly bagging a consolation goal in the 78th minute. His intervention drew wide admiration and applause from Matlock's highest crowd of the 2021/22 season so far. Matlock managed the final few minutes of the game very comfortably and fully deserved their fifth win in a row when the final whistle blew. What makes this great run of form even more encouraging is the fact that Matlock are winning games without key players in the starting eleven. This was only the first game back for captain and talisman Liam Hughes this season whilst Ross Hannah and Jesurun Uchegbulam were ruled out through suspension and injury respectively for the game against Gainsborough. Matlock Town team: Rowley, Sharman, Kendall (Chippendale 77), Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Byrne, Hasani (Wiles 64), Hughes (c), Walker, J Greaves (O Greaves 52). Unused subs: Hall, Wafula. Attendance: 627 Dave Wild Quotes: "We're very pleased with the result. In terms of the performance, I thought we were solid defensively again. That's what we're trying to build as a group. In terms of the performance overall as a team, I still think we're better than what we showed today. That probably sounds a bit hyper-critical based on the score line, but I just think we've still got better performances in us in attacking areas. I think a couple of players were a little below par compared to performances in previous games." "Jerome Greaves is a brilliant lad...I was pleased for him today. He's not been 100% fit today and he wasn't against Warrington either. So he's ran through the pain barrier twice but he ran for the cause and you've got to respect players like that. His second goal was excellent today. He's taken well to our group and all the lads here like him. He's humble and he's here to work hard and he wants to impress." "One thing Phillo and I are really happy about, is that the players who aren't starting are not moaning about it. They're understanding that when the players who are starting are playing well and getting the results, you've just got to back the lads and take your chance when you get the chance. That's what's happened with players like Jerome and Lirak Hasani. I think in terms of the full squad - we're in a really good place."

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