A dreadful performance from Matlock Town cost them dearly as they were dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle by local rivals Belper Town in humiliating fashion. Former Matlock player Jonathon Margetts scored a hat-trick to give the Nailers a famous 3-0 win over their Derbyshire neighbours at The Proctor Cars Stadium to put them into the draw for the Second Qualifying Round of the world's oldest domestic cup competition. In a baffling performance, the Gladiators inexplicably just never got going in a derby match that attracted a fantastic crowd of just over 1,000. Despite coming into this game with five wins on the bounce, Matlock were bullied out of the game by an impressive Belper Town and there was no question that the Nailers thoroughly deserved their victory and to win back the Caroline Melbourne Trophy. A pivotal moment occurred in the eighth minute of the game when a hamstring problem forced Ross Hannah to be substituted very early on. This appeared to really rock Matlock's game plan coming into this match. Matlock struggled throughout the first half when it came to defending set-pieces and it was no surprise that Belper ended up taking the lead in the 25th minute following a corner kick. Matlock's defence struggled to clear the ball away from danger once again but on this occasion Jonathon Margetts was in the right place at the right time and fired the ball home from close range to give Belper Town the lead. The Nailers almost doubled their advantage in the 38th minute when Craig Nelthorpe found space from 20 yards out and struck the ball hard. To Matlock's relief, Nelthorpe's effort curled just wide of the post. For some reason though, the Gladiators never heeded the warning signs and the game was only going to get worse for them. If anything, Belper improved in the second half while Matlock continued to struggle in the final third and barely posed a threat. Matlock's chance to change the dynamics of the game and turn it on its head came in the few minutes leading up to Belper's second goal. Within around three minutes of each other midway through the second half, both Alex Byrne and substitute Callum Chippendale both had carbon copy opportunities when they finally found some space from 20 yards out to actually test Myles Wright in Belper's net for the first time. Strangely though, both Byrne's and Chippendale's efforts lacked any sort of conviction and both efforts simply rolled into the hands of Wright in goal. The Gladiators were to pay for this dearly.
In the 68th minute, defender Jamie Sharman was shown a straight red card for a foul inside the penalty area when he was the last man back for the Gladiators. The referee didn't really have any other choice and Matlock can have no complaints about the decision. Jonathon Margetts gleefully converted the resulting penalty after smashing the ball past Shaun Rowley and into the bottom right corner of the net to give Belper a 2-0 lead. Incredibly, the lower-tier opponents made it 3-0 pretty much instantly after winning back possession straight away when Matlock kicked off from the centre circle. The ball was threaded forwards for Margetts to run onto and he was able to side-step Reece Kendall and squeeze the ball past the oncoming Shaun Rowley from 15 yards out to give the Nailers an incredible 3-0 lead away from home and to secure a hat-trick against his former club. The Gladiators were well and truly rattled and, with a man down, the rest of the game was just a case of damage limitation to avoid further embarrassment. Astonishingly, Belper came about as close as possible to making it 4-0 in the 83rd minute when Margetts (yet again!) found space inside the penalty area to try and curl the ball past Rowley in goal. His effort cannoned off the underside of the cross bar and the ball fell just in front of the goal line. Matlock's only meaningful effort on target arrived in the 89th minute of the game when Chippendale struck the ball hard from 20 yards out to finally force Myles Wright into action and the goalkeeper did well to palm the ball away from danger. Shortly afterwards, the referee blew the final whistle to put Matlock out of their misery and to send Belper's players and staff in the dug-out into raptures. Whilst the NPL Premier Division is obviously Matlock's main focus for this season, fans had every right to be extremely annoyed with a woeful performance that has now given one of their main rivals the bragging rights. It will be fascinating to see if the Gladiators can put this performance behind them and resume their fantastic start to the league campaign when they host Stalybridge Celtic this coming Saturday. Matlock Town team: Rowley, Sharman, Kendall (Hall 87), Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Byrne, Wiles (Chippendale 62), Hughes (c), Hannah (Uchegbulam 8), Walker. Unused subs: Coppin, Hasani, King, Phillips. Attendance: 1,052