Matlock Town overcame National League North neighbours and current holders Alfreton Town 3-1 in the Derbyshire Senior Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night as their good cup form this season continued.
The win set up a home semi-final with South Normanton Athletic and was a deserved victory for Steve Kittrick’s men.
Matlock wasted little time in surging in front, breaking quickly after keeper Jon Stewart had knocked away a Connor Branson shot. Marcus Marshall sped down the left, James Tague picking up the pieces from his cross with an incisive lay off to Nathan Valentine, who marked his home debut with his second goal in two games, threading home a low 20-yarder which beat Jordan Wright, striking a post before finding its way over the line.
Alfreton were undone again on 18 minutes as they fell two goals adrift. Tague, belying his tender age of 18, played a super pass to Marshall whose initial effort was blocked by Wright but netted from the rebound, his shot from a tight angle hitting desperate red shirted defenders on the line before finding the target.
Branson nodded a Josh Clackstone cross wide shortly before the interval, but Alfreton reached half-time with lots of work to do.
The second period initially showed promise for the visitors, Ryan Qualter going close with an attempt which was deflected inches wide.
But Alfreton were hit by a third Matlock goal as Luke Dean cleverly released Tague on the right, the youngster keeping his composure to finish with aplomb, shooting calmly into the bottom corner for his first ever Matlock goal.
Billy Heath’s men gave themselves a lifeline when Ben Tomlinson found room in the Gladiators penalty box to square for Dom Smith to finish easily.
As Matlock began to tire, Alfreton increased the tempo but the hosts defended stoutly with Stewart at this point largely untroubled.
Matlock looked dangerous on the counter, Smith being well placed to head away as Luke Hinsley threatened before home substitute Piteu Crouz forced Wright into a full length save to keep out his curling effort after a purposeful break by fellow substitute Tomas Poole.
With time quickly running out, Stewart brilliantly denied Amari Morgan-Smith, Branson blasting the loose ball wide before in stoppage time Morgan-Smith was again frustrated. Jude Oyibo found him in the Matlock penalty box but after cleverly beating a defender, Stewart’s body was in the way and Matlock’s passage through to the semi-finals was confirmed.