Victory at Hednesford last Saturday kept Matlock Town’s play off hopes alive but with results elsewhere both last weekend and on Tuesday night not favouring them, they know that in essence, nothing less than maximum points from their three remaining games will do if they are to remain in contention for promotion.

Even then, the Gladiators are relying on play off rivals dropping points and as joint boss Craig Hopkins admitted “ even nine out of nine might not be enough.”

On Saturday, all of the contenders for that final play off slot won, bar Warrington Town who lost at home to Stafford Rangers. Then in midweek, Workington crucially beat Buxton and even though they are in eighth, they are probably favourites as they have three of their remaining four matches at home to struggling sides. Grantham were winners at Coalville while a last gasp penalty was enough for Whitby to win at Mickleover.

“It’s important we do our part and make sure we win on Saturday to start with and see how the league table looks then for it can change with every game with it being so tight. You never know in this league, bottom can beat top, you’re not guaranteed the points.”

That point is emphasised when looking at Matlock’s first Easter opponents, Sutton Coldfield Town. Matlock travel to the artificial Coles Lane surface knowing that the Royals beat Spennymoor there last weekend and earlier in the campaign, Sutton recovered from a two goal deficit to beat newly crowned champions Blyth Spartans 3-2.

“Sutton are in brilliant form especially at home so it’ll be a difficult game on Saturday. But we must go there looking for the win and hopefully the break we’ve had this week will do us good. We had a nice training session on Tuesday, a good get together and afterwards the club treated us all to fish and chips which was spot on.”

Matlock then head to Buxton on Easter Monday afternoon.

It was a comfortable win at mid table Hednesford.

“We didn’t play particularly well especially in the first half but we had a chat at half time saying we had to do things quicker and in the second half we were better and deservedly won. I can’t recall Barnesy having to make a save, defensively we worked really hard so 2-0 was comfortable and in the end pleasing.”

Top scorer Marcus Dinanga, now with 32 goals to his name this season, was honoured at the NPL Players Awards Night in Barnsley on Sunday night. Former Welsh international striker Dean Saunders presented him with the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division Young Player of the Season and Dinanga was also named in the divisional team of the season.

“We’re really chuffed for him, and it looks well on the club and shows how much he’s improved while he’s been with us. It should also help us to get young players loaned to us in the future.”

Meanwhile Matlock’s reserve squad won the Derbyshire Divisional Cup North for the first time when they beat Tintwistle Athletic 2-1 at Buxton on Monday night. Ben Edgson and Jordan Lee were on target for the Gladiators.

Ian Richardson

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