It’s been a costly week for Matlock Town, financially, in terms of prestige and their own pride.

Yet another first stage FA Cup exit in a First Qualifying replay at Whitley Bay on Tuesday night following Saturday’s goalless bore draw at the Autoworld Arena sees three thousand pounds of prize money slip away with the possibility of more to come following Monday’s draw for the next stage. A home tie against North West Counties League Congleton Town awaited them if victory against the Seahorses could have been achieved.

But the Gladiators have only themselves to blame. Whitley Bay were down to nine men and having been gifted their first two goals which gave them a 2-0 lead, Matlock surrendered timidly and without much common sense late on to concede an 119th minute equalizer before going out on penalties.

A fuming Matlock boss Mark Hume said little afterwards except to say “I can’t keep on defending them (the players), they’ve had their chance, maybe you should go and ask them what their explanation is, we keep on going round in circles.”

It was Niall McManus, a Sheffield University student, who acted as spokesman on the long coach journey home from the North East.

“It’s no fault of the gaffer’s, the players have to take responsibility for this” McManus admitted.”It’s a lack of proper game management on our part, we shouldn’t keep giving ourselves mountains to climb. We got ourselves back in the tie and were in control but then failed to see it out. We’re all gutted just as the club officials and fans will be, there’s no excuses” At 3-2 up all of a sudden we stopped doing the basics. Whitley Bay went gung ho but we didn’t keep the ball half as well as we should have done and we’ve got to learn quickly from this else it’ll come and bite us again.”

McManus’ day began at 10 am with a journey up from London.

“I won’t and none of us should complain about the travelling, yes it’s extra gutting for me coming up from London but everyone’s got to make a sacrifice to play football, and it’s sickening for us that the sacrifice tonight has seen us get nothing. We were dominating the game and let it slip, we did the same against Halesowen and then conceded a silly goal which had us on the back foot.”

Despite his obvious upset about Tuesday’s result, McManus is confident that Matlock can soon revert to winning ways.

I’m sure we can bounce back, there’s tons of ability in our squad but we’ve got to master the game management aspect and I’m sure we will. We’re still in a half decent position in the league and the important thing now is picking up three points on Saturday and getting on a good run in the league.”

Whether Hume will be busy bringing players in before Saturday remains to be seen, but the Gladiators are currently operating with a wafer thin squad and now seems the time to freshen it up, whether it be with loan or permanent additions.

Both of the Gladiators next opponents have not enjoyed the best of starts to the campaign. Twentieth placed Colwyn Bay, relegated from Conference North last Spring, visit the Autoworld Arena on Saturday, while Tuesday night sees Matlock travel to second bottom Grantham Town who are yet to win after Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Sutton Coldfield in their seventh league outing.

Micky Harcourt completes his three match ban in these two fixtures following his red card against Ilkeston while Liam Gaughan, who also missed the trip to Whitley Bay through injury, will need assessing ahead of the weekend.

Ian Richardson

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