A young Burton Albion side was held back by a resilient Matlock Town team in the brewers 5th pre-season friendly of the 2017/18 season.
The brewers fielded a team containing a mix of first-team players and academy graduates. The most surprising player to start for Burton was physiotherapist Nick Fenton, who made his first start since 2014. Jake Buxton also made his first start in a Burton Albion shirt since 2009, after Nigel Clough signed him earlier this month.
The teams walked out to a crowd of 420 at the DCJ Insurance Group Arena. Burton started brightly and energetically, and were rewarded for their efforts in the sixth minute after Marcus Dinanga’s flick fell to Joe Sbarra inside the six-yard box. The original shot from Sbarra was saved but he made no mistake calmly slotting home the rebound.
Four minutes later, a brilliant Dinanga run and shot was expertly saved by gladiators ‘keeper Phil Barnes. Matty Palmer tried to get the brewers a second but his shot was blocked, and it fell to Jack Hallahan who couldn’t keep his shot down.
Matlock piled pressure on the Burton defence, and, after a defensive error by Jake Buxton, the gladiators equalised. Buxton scooped the ball into the path of a Matlock trialist, who poked the ball past Campbell.
Soon after, Matlock turned the score in their favour. A beautiful free kick from another trialist curled over the wall and nestled itself into the top right corner. The brewers showed their frustration after a dominant first 15 minutes, by failing to create any real chances until a string of passes were put together by Burton but Fox slightly over hit a through-ball to Sbarra .
Burton equalised on the 36th minute. Dinanga was denied originally but swept home at the second time of asking. Dinanga almost got another just a minute later after great feet from Sbarra allowed him to cross, but it was just in front of Dinanga.
The teams were level at the break, with the brewers dominating the first and last 15 of the half. Jake Buxton was replaced by Thomas Hammerton, and Fenton moved to the centre of defence.
The brewers had the first chance of the second half after Dinanga took a touch and hit a sweet half volley from just inside the box, but the Matlock ‘keeper palmed it away.
Matty Palmer’s 57th minute free kick was well saved by Phil Barnes. Then, Dinanga almost gave the brewers the lead from McCrory’s first time cross but the ball was cleared.
The brewers swapped goalkeepers on the 73rd minute as Harry Campbell made way for Jack Livesey.
The brewers made two late subs as Reece Hutchinson and Luke Tandy replaced Jack Hallahan and Ben Fox.
The second half was by far the scrappier part of the game, and with chances few and far between, the game ended with two goals apiece.
Jack’s Man of the Match: Joe Sbarra
Images provided by Burton Albion FC Twitter