A mixed and eventful week for Matlock Town has seen them score their first goals and record their first victory of the calendar year, lose an eventful Derbyshire Senior Cup semi final to Alfreton Town, collect even more injuries and add a new signing.

Next is the small matter of a home clash with new league leaders Farsley Celtic on Saturday, the Leeds side hitting the summit after demolishing Gainsborough Trinity 5-0 at the Northolme on Tuesday night.

Matlock had gone 530 minutes without a goal until Luke Hinsley headed them into a 34th minute lead at Hyde when Matlock won 2-1, Craig Westcarr striking the winner after an equaliser from Nicky Platt.

It put Matlock in good heart to face Alfreton in the Senior Cup on Tuesday but after leading 2-1 at the interval, the Gladiators succumbed to a strong Reds recovery, losing 4-2 and finished the game with nine men. Already without the ineligible Craig King, (Alfreton had asked for Matlock’s agreement not to play King against them in a cup tie when he joined the Gladiators from the Reds in October), Westcarr who collected an impact foot injury in scoring the winner at Hyde, Defender Brad Beatson (ear infection) and Jordan Chapell who was on the bench despite not being fully fit, Matlock lost Greg Tempest(posterior muscle)and Jamie Jackson (tight hamstring) during the game and had replaced Michael Williams with Harry Wood. Adam Yates was sent off for a rash challenge on Reece Styche before Dwayne Wiley collapsed to the turf and was helped off with all of their substitutes used.

So Matlock look as though they find themselves on the receiving end of an injury crisis yet again, with Cleveland Taylor still three weeks away from a return and Marcus Marshall possibly out for the rest of the season.

“We’ll have to see what we’ve got at training on Thursday. If Westy (Westcarr) can train on Thursday which we hope he can, he’ll probably be okay, to be honest it was more of a precaution not playing him for he would probably have missed the Farsley game had we put him in. Greg could possibly make it as well, his muscle around his bottom went tight but hopefully he’ll recover. Jacko has a tight hamstring so we’ll have to see how that goes, Brad Beatson might make it but playing a side the calibre of Farsley, we need him to be 100 per cent so again we’ll need to assess him. Dwayne’s a major doubt though with a knee injury.”

The signing of Grantham Town centre half Chris Salt could therefore be a timely one and he could be set for an immediate Matlock debut on Saturday. Salt (24) began his career with Sheffield United’s academy and has played NPL football at Worksop Town and Buxton plus Conference North football at Gainsborough Trinity under Frecklington’s management. After a short spell at Clipstone Welfare, he moved to Stamford and was part of the team which made it through to the FA Cup 1st Round proper and a tie at Hartlepool United. After his move to Grantham this season, he played ten times for the Gingerbreads before signing for Matlock before kick off on Tuesday.

“I’ve worked with Chris before at Gainsborough when he was part of our great escape from relegation. He’s only 24 so he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him, he’s a strong centre half, our type of player and with Dwayne’s injury tonight he’ll have every chance of starting on Saturday.” said Frecklington who says Matlock are short in the central defensive positions.

With Ashton Hall attracting attention from Football League clubs and having been asked by Leeds United to return on trial for a second week, that would leave only Yates as first choice central defender although Beatson and Lee Beevers can also slot in.

“Ashton’s been training with Leeds under 18’s on Tuesday and will be with the under 23’s for the rest of the week and we;’ll see what happens after that but Leeds have been really impressed with him and Ashton’s fallen in love with the place as well. So we felt the time was right to strike and get a player of Chris’ ability into the building, He’s a great character for the changing room and a winner who wants to improve his game plus one more we’ve ticked off for next season.”

The positives from the Senior Cup defeat were the good first half performance, two goals for Jonny Margetts and although Yates was sent off for the first time in his career, revised disciplinary procedures this season mean he will not be banned for any of Matlock’s remaining league matches, the suspension coming into effect in next season’s Derbyshire Senior Cup.

“I can never question the effort, commitment and determination these guys show every time they put on a shirt” Frecklington added.

“They took all of the setbacks on the chin with the injuries before and during the game, Michael Hollingsworth having to slot in at right back after Greg was injured and finishing the game with nine men with both centre halves off the pitch .We were the better team in the first half, it could have been 3-1 at half time. Alfreton obviously had a good chat at half time but if you take Reece Styche out of that side it would have been a closer outcome. In the end it was always going to be a struggle with a 16 year old on, Nathan Clarke did very well when he came on. The refereeing was questionable for both sides, this referee officiates at a level above both us and Alfreton but they don’t understand this level of football and a tackle at this level is different to that in the Conference and Football League. It would have been better if a referee at this level had taken charge although I’ve no complaints with Adam Yates’ sending off, it was a straight red.”

Frecklington admitted everyone was absolutely delighted to have ended their scoring drought at Hyde but he was more pleased with Matlock’s response after Hyde had drawn level.

“It’s been a while since we scored but more pleasing was the way we responded to their equaliser. We could have gone back in our shell but we were bang on it, and I was pleased with every aspect of our performance with players adapting to a different shape. It was a totally deserved win, the second goal was worthy of winning any game.”

The big question now is whether Matlock can spring a surprise against an in form Farsley who since a last minute defeat at South Shields on 19 January, have won four league and cup matches in succession, twice scoring five goals away from home as well as notching three at Scarborough.

Matlock may take encouragement from a narrow 3-2 loss at Throstle Nest in September during the early days of Frecklington’s reign.

“Whatever team we put out will be competitive, will work hard and be committed but we need to brighten up in certain areas of the pitch” said Frecklington.

“We’ve had an excellent response to a dry January, Jonny Margetts was excellent against Alfreton and scored two very good goals. We know we have to defend well with Farsley going for the league title and being a very good team. We also want to pick up as many points as we can between now and the end of the season and hang on the coat-tails of the top five as you never know what can happen in football.”

Ian Richardson

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