Matlock Town's winning run came to an end on Wednesday evening as they were defeated by their Derbyshire neighbours Chesterfield 3-1 in a pre-season friendly at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
Despite Alex Byrne's fantastic goal for the Gladiators, strikes from Liam Mandeville, Danny Rowe and Nathan Tyson gave the Spireites their first pre-season victory ahead of the 2021/22 campaign following a surprise 2-1 defeat to local rivals Alfreton Town.
Before the game started, a minute's applause took place at the ground in tribute to Gladiators and Spireites legend Ernie Moss, who sadly passed away recently. A number of supporters also chanted "Ernie, Ernie, Ernie!" at his family's request as the applause took place.
Chesterfield took the lead after only four minutes when Mandeville found space on the edge of the penalty area to confidently slot the ball past Shaun Rowley and into the bottom corner of the net.
Danny Rowe was a constant threat in the final third for Chesterfield and he almost doubled the lead for the Spireites when his 25 yard free-kick flashed just over the bar.
Despite a stumble out of the starting blocks, Matlock worked their way back into the game as the first half progressed and were duly rewarded with an equaliser in the 38th minute. The impressive Alex Byrne stepped up to take a free-kick from 20 yards out and his effort curled magnificently into the top corner of the net to level the game at 1-1.
Chesterfield regained the lead though on the stroke of half-time thanks to an absolute thunderbolt of a strike from forward Danny Rowe. Rowe took full advantage of some open space from 25 yards out and absolutely hammered the ball home into the net off the underside of the bar.
The second half was a stop-start affair due to so many substitutions that took place but the Spireites killed the game off in the 88th minute when Nathan Tyson smashed the ball home from just inside the penalty area following an excellent surging run and assist from Saidou Khan on a counter attack.
Matlock Town team: Rowley, Trialist, Kendall, Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Byrne, Walker, Hughes (c), Chippendale, Uchegbulam. Used subs: Carney, Wafula, Pritchard. Unused subs: Coppin, Hannah.
Paul Phillips Quotes:
"I thought we were okay. I thought we huffed and puffed. I think it was our worst performance in our pre-season but I think that's probably the best side that we've faced in pre-season. They've assembled a good squad. They asked us a lot of questions and I think, realistically, we lost the game in midfield...we just came up against a good team that did the right things in the right areas and had the firepower up front. The best team won tonight."
"Ross Hannah was here tonight but didn't play as he's got a bit of a tight calf at the moment. We didn't want to take a chance with him. Alex Wiles missed the game as he had to self-isolate. One of his close family members has Covid and Alex got pinged, so he had to miss tonight's game which was a blow. We missed his magic in midfield and his link-up play. Without him, we didn't quite have the tools to hurt them tonight in midfield."
"Chesterfield approached the game like we thought they would...I think they could well win their league. I hope they do, they're a great club...I thought we looked a bit leggy tonight. But we'll put this to bed and work on what could have been better on Saturday."
"It was a great tribute to Ernie tonight and it epitomised the man that he was."