At last Matlock Town turned in what joint boss Craig Hopkins labelled “a ninety minute” performance in a fine 3-1 home win over an in form Stourbridge last Saturday.
Now attention turns firmly to FA Cup progress against Kidsgrove Athletic, another side who have hit form of late.
The Gladiators travel to take on the Evo-Stik First Division outfit who have won their last two matches, a 2-1 win at Matlock’s Premier Division rivals Stafford Rangers in the last round being followed by an emphatic 5-0 home win against Chasetown in the league.
While the result and the display against Stourbridge was undoubtedly Matlock’s best since Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood took over the managerial reins, the Gladiators’ managerial duo will not be taking anything for granted this weekend.
“The reports we’ve had back from Kidsgrove’s match last weekend were pretty much what we already knew, that they have some very good big game players” said Hopkins. “It;s about as close to 50-50 as you can get with a side from one league above travelling to the lower division side so whoever wants it more on the day will come out on top and all our focus now is on Kidsgrove on Saturday.We want a good cup run, for the fans who’ve not seen much success in the FA Cup in recent years, but also for the players. It’s all about making memories, players can remember a good cup run for the rest of their careers and it’s something good for the fans to look back on and remember. I can remember playing in the 2nd Round proper and it’s a great experience.”
If Matlock can replicate the workrate and flair shown against Stourbridge, they will certainly stand a decent chance of making the next round. Marcus Dinanga stole the headlines with a well taken hat-trick, but as Hopkins pointed out, it was a day when everyone in Matlock colours played well.
“It was the best we’ve played, before we’ve done well in thirty minute spells and not for ninety minutes but we did that on Saturday and that’s what we’ve been looking for, we asked for it and got it and we were delighted. Before kick off we expected Stourbridge to go 4-4-2 and we thought that if we could get seven or eight of our lads getting the better of their opponent, then we’d have a good chance of winning. But I thought every one of our lads was better, all eleven players were bang-on.”
All of the goals came in the second half with Matlock improving as the game developed. Dinanga opened his account within two minutes of the resumption to give the Gladiators the initiative,
“We played well in the first half and at half time we asked them to continue what they’d been doing, stay patient, and we’d win the game.Marcus’ early goal sets us off and then we got at them again and we played with a lot of confidence.”
The next step is to produce Stourbridge type performances on a regular basis.
“We can still get better” Hopkins insisted, “We’ve done it for one game, if we can do it for six or seven games then we’ll be getting somewhere. We’re starting something, Kirky, Coxy,(Danny Cox), Soll (Adam Sollitt) and me want to be here for a long time and produce a consistent winning side playing good football, playing to a style that suits us. It’s a matter of improve, improve for we’ve a young side who should get better together.”
Captain Laurie Wilson missed out on Saturday after picking up a hamstring strain in training following a three match suspension, but he is expected to be added to last weekend’s squad for the cup tie. If Saturday’s game is drawn, the replay will take place at the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on Tuesday,meaning that the scheduled league visit to newly promoted Coalville Town will be postponed. Coalville are also in FA Cup action this weekend at home to AFC Mansfield.
Meanwhile winger Ryan King has moved to First Division South Belper Town after making only three substitute appearances for the Gladiators following his summer move from Gresley FC.