WORKSOP Town ended 2012 on the highest possible note, humiliating their rivals Matlock Town with a 6-1 thrashing.
It was the perfect parting shot for a year of ups and downs for the Sandy Lane men, but with no defeats in nine games and 23 points from a possible 27, things are certainly looking up going into 2013.
The result itself wasn’t the reason home fans left the ground with smiles as wide as the gulf in class between the two teams on Saturday. It was the manner of victory, achieved within 25 scintillating minutes.
Tigers took six minutes to get into their stride, and then put the Gladiators to the sword with five goals before the 25 minute mark, including a hat-trick for Ash Burbeary.
Burbeary, days after turning down a move away from Tigers, was rampant on the left, Ryan Clarke a menace bombing forward from right-back and Luke Shiels imperious in defence.
Slick passing, neat interplay, pace down the flanks and deadly finishing left Matlock in a daze, and even the sending off of Worksop captain Stuart Ludlam failed to spark the visitors.
There was a blow for Matlock before kick-off, as Adam Yates limped off, Laurence Gaughan coming into the side.
Simon Clark’s Worksop made the perfect start, going ahead on six minutes from a Luke Shiels header.
The hosts won a corner on the right after Jon Kennedy tipped Leon Mettam’s free-kick round the post, the corner was taken quickly by Craig King and when Steve Towers whipped in a cross Shiels was there to power the ball into the corner of the net.
Just two minutes later the Gladiators were rocking, Jake Scott starting a move that involved Tom Denton, Craig King and Ryan Clarke who pulled it back for Ash Burbeary at the far post, the winger steering home with his left foot for a 2-0 lead.
Things got even worse for the shell-shocked visitors on 13 minutes as Scott felled Gareth Davies with a thumping – but legal – tackle and the Matlock player had to depart, replaced by Brad Grayson.
Four minutes later Tigers were three goals to the good.
Denton nodded Paul Bastock’s long ball to Mettam, the little striker controlled brilliantly and fed Burbeary on the left and he got into the box to shoot in off the post, despite Kennedy getting a hand to it.
Within 60 seconds it was all over.
Mettam was brought down in the box, the referee awarded a spot-kick and Burbeary sealed a 19-minute hat-trick by stroking the ball into the right hand corner of the net for 4-0, as Worksop fans shook their heads in delight and disbelief.
There should have been a second penalty as Mettam went down over the leg of James Lukic, having been released by a fantastic Scott pass, but this time the man in the middle said no.
Worksop fans weren’t outraged for long however, the hosts breaking with menace, Mettam linking with Burbeary who then unselfishly squared back to the striker and he sidefooted number five into the net.
Such was the yellow dominance, Matlock didn’t have a single shot at goal until the half hour mark, Grayson squirming an effort wide.
A sustained period of pressure from the visitors came and went, several crosses into the box being nodded away until Lewis McMahon deliberately handled and was given a yellow on 35 minutes.
Kern Miller then cleared off the line in the latter stages of the first half, following Grayson’s trundling shot, and at the other end Mettam had an effort saved by Kennedy.
On the stroke of half-time a long ball through the middle released Jacob Hazel and Ludlam pulled him down, giving the referee no option but to send the Tigers skipper off, potentially turning the tide in Matlock’s favour.
Worksop reorganised with Scott moving to right-back and Clarke swapping sides, Burbeary filling the centre of midfield.
At the break Simon Clark reshuffled, sending Matt Young on to shore up the midfield, Mettam making way.
And the 10 men started brightly, winning a corner that Shiels almost turned into the net from six yards.
But they were pegged back on 52 minutes, a long ball clearing the head of Kern Miller and allowing McMahon to run through and score past Bastock with the visitors’ first shot on target.
And seconds later Hazel had a chance to make it 5-2, but Bastock saved well at his near post.
Worksop eventually began to play the football that saw them tear Matlock to bits in the first half, and when the referee played great advantage after a foul on Clarke, Burbeary was able to cross to the back post for Denton to nod home his 13th goal in 13 games.
With three goals and two assists to his name, Burbeary left the field to a deserved ovation on 79 minutes, Matt Telling getting on in his place.
Neither side created anything of note as the game meandered to a full-time whistle that signalled one of the most impressive victories seen at Sandy Lane for years.
Worksop: Bastock 8, Clarke 8, Ludlam 6, Scott 8, SHIELS 9, Miller 7, King 7 (Beeson 69), Towers 8, Denton 8, Mettam 8 (Young 46 7), Burbeary 9 (Telling 79). Not used: Wood, Hawes.
Matlock Town: Kennedy, Gaughan (Ellington 62), Rowe, Foster, Radford, Lukic, Hazel, Ashmore, Cotton (Leesley 46), McMahon, Davies (Grayson 13). Not used: Buxton.
Referee: D. Plowright. Assistants: S. Mason, S. Abbott.
Goalscorers: Shiels 6, Burbeary 8, 17, 19 (pen), Mettam 24, Denton 67; McMahon 52.
Yellows: McMahon 35.
Red: Ludlam 45.