Saturday 28th July 2012 -- pre-season friendly at Watnall Road...
From Hucknall's point of view this should read pre-season "VERY" friendly, as the Yellows gave their Evo-Stik Premier opponents far too much time, space and respect for this to be classed as just an ordinary pre-season friendly.
The Gladiators were far too good in all departments for Hucknall, although they were gifted a couple of goals due to some poor defending. Add to this that the final two goals were a bit special and would have graced any game, and the Hucknall faithful maybe shouldn't read too much into this result.
Joe Leesley should have opened the scoring for Matlock in just the second minute, but he headed over from close range after Liam Garner had headed a ball into the box back across goal. Two minutes later the home team were let off the hook again when a James Lukic header from a free-kick flew just wide.
Brad Grayson lasted only 14 minutes for Matlock, but his replacement, Lee Ellington, made his mark on the game immediately, powering home a header after being left completely unmarked in front of goal.
Hucknall's first real chance came on 28, Garner steering the ball just wide of the far post after he was picked out by a cross from the right by Karl Slack. Julian Topliss had a decent chance to level in the 34th minute, but he missed the target after being played in on goal by Slack.
Kyle Ludlow was withdrawn on 38 and was replaced by Rob Palin. Chris Baugh took up a more advanced position, but Palin was caught cold and allowed the ball to be crossed into the area. Jason Fisher got fingertips to the ball, but it eventually fell to Ryan Hindley who gleefully hammered home from close range. A bit harsh on the home team, but any lack of concentration against a team of this ability will always be punished. H-T 0-2
Brett Marshall kept his squad on the pitch for the half -time team talk....to say the air was blue would be something of an understatement!!!! One main criticism overheard was the lack of closing down. It was noticeable how good Matlock were at getting in the Hucknall players' faces as soon as they had the ball - something sadly lacking from the Yellows.
Slack was replaced by Danny Blair at the break, Joel Goodacre took Warren Hatfield's place and Theo Ganderson came on for Jamie Brown as Marshall rang the changes.
Ellington added his second on the hour - the defending again left a lot to be desired after the young man was allowed to head home after the ball flew loose to the far stick. It was a bit of a scruffy goal, but the next goal was a gem! Ben Algar collected the ball 25 yards from goal and beat everyone in the Hucknall back line with his close control, before gently rolling the ball past Fisher.
Joe Leesley looks a good centre-forward - a big, bustling player and he can shoot a bit as well. He cut in from the right on 80, got the the corner of the box and unleashed a veritable rocket that was past Fisher before he even smelt it! Applauded by Matlock and Hucknall fans alike -- great tekkers, son!!! F-T 0-5
First chance we've had to see Referee Harry Hawkins since his promotion - handled the game very well, but the players' attitudes helped tremendously - no nasty challenges of note and no need for serious words or cards of any colour.
Any Hucknall Town regulars seeing this result will be thinking the worst for the coming season. The Yellows are short of a couple of experienced players, but with a limited budget it is not easy to attract anyone of note. The club are £200 richer this week - we have committed ourselves to season tickets for the 2012-2013 campaign. We know roughly what to expect, but hey ho - it's only money!!!!
Admission £5 (team sheet inc)