THE EVOLVING squad of Hucknall Town were “dead on their feet” after they were heavily defeated by Matlock Town in a pre-season friendly at Watnall Road last Saturday.
That was the verdict of boss Brett Marshall as his troops were hammered 5-0 and showed the impact of three games in six days against a side who ply their trade a division higher in the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League.
The visitors controlled the game for long periods as the jaded Yellows looked off the pace and it was substitute Lee Ellington who nodded Matlock in front after just 11 minutes with his first touch of the ball. Ryan Handley supplied the cross from the right and Ellington glanced his header into the corner of the net.
This came after Joe Lesley had fired over for The Gladiators from just six yards out after a mix-up between Liam Garner and Jason Fisher in the Hucknall goal.
Matlock continued to control the game and missed further chances to increase their lead but Hucknall then had a good 15-minute period of pressure where they will be disappointed that they didn’t manage to equalise.
Chris Baugh did well down the right and got his cross in, but Liam Garner dragged his shot wide. A minute later it was Garner again who ran from midfield to head over from a Karl Slack cross, then good pressure from Slack saw him rob Ryan Leight before finding Julian Topliss for a shot failed to hit the target.
The home side were then punished for not making their pressure pay as Hucknall gave the ball away and a cross into the box was driven home by Ryan Handley.
Marshall made three changes at the break and altered his system with Keiran Watson, Danny Blair and Joel Goodacre coming into the action and Hucknall started the half much better with Watson giving the front line some much-needed pace and closing the Matlock defenders down.
Baugh fired wide and Danny Blair delayed getting his shot away when well placed in the box, enabling Laurence Gaughan to block his effort, as Hucknall looked to cut the deficit.
But that was as good as it got for The Yellows as yet another mix-up let in Ellington to tap in his second and Matlock’s third and a great individual effort from the impressive Ben Algar added number four.
The best goal was saved for last though, as Gladiators number nine Joe Leesley cut in from the left and fired an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal.