Boss Dave Frecklington paid tribute to the Gladiators supporters in a pre Christmas message this week.
It came after Matlock’s excellent 3-1 win at Whitby Town last Saturday, a result which gave them their third successive victory in league and cup as they bounced back convincingly after their 5-0 defeat at South Shields three weeks ago. Matlock have taken an impressive thirty points from their last thirteen games, the South Shields game being their only league defeat since the end of September.

Conditions at Whitby were horrendous with a cold biting swirling wind enveloping the Turnbull Ground.

“The support we had up at Whitby was fantastic. Whitby’s a place where people like to have a weekend away, the conditions though were about the worst I’d experienced, it was about the coldest day ever. It would have been so easy for them to stay in the pub in the warm but the backing we got was magnificent and the most vocal since we came into the building. The players gave them something to cheer about but even when we were 1-0 down the supporters kept encouraging and cheering us on. We’ve had terrific support from the people of Matlock since we came here, the home attendances have been great and it’s important that we keep on getting this level of support and trying to increase it. This tremendous support does encourage the lads and we want it to carry on.”

Frecklington is a big believer that everyone, officials, management, players, helpers and fans should be one.

“That bond’s so important for without the supporters we are nothing and it was so nice on Saturday to enjoy that performance together and to share a beer and a smile afterwards was very rewarding.”

Matlock are inviting fans to stay behind after Saturday’s home meeting with Stafford Rangers and have a drink with players and management when it is hoped that the reserve, academy and junior sides will be represented.

Frecklington reflected on the win at Whitby and looked forward to a tough game against Rangers who are surprisingly in the bottom half under new boss Steve Burr.

“It was a fantastic win at Whitby, it was a real test of the lads’ character. A lot of teams would have seen the conditions and wanted to get off but we were aggressive from the off, we were the stronger side and also played the better football in a game we dominated so it was really pleasing. Our front two were magnificent and we fully deserved the 3-1 win. As for Stafford, we’ve been doing our homework and it’ll be a really tough fixture. We go out to win every game, if we work hard as we’ve been doing we’ll have every chance of winning it, if we don’t reach those levels then another result’s possible.”

The Gladiators currently sit in ninth spot and their recent impressive run has got Frecklington thinking about a top five spot.

“We’re six points off second, those back to back wins we got were vital. Considering we were bottom of the league to be within six points of second spot is tremendous and the players deserve immense credit. The damage was done early in the season so in that regard we can’t afford any more slip ups and we’ll probably have to keep this run going until the death to be serious challengers. But we’re in the mix. We’ll have a better idea of where we are when the games level out but we have a lot of the teams towards the top end to play at home. It’s going to be really interesting with Buxton way and Gainsborough at home to come after Stafford.”

Frecklington may soon also have the luxury of a clean bill of health after a long injury list earlier in his short tenure so far. Tom Davie, Michael Williams and Harry Vince are all in light training which will make competition for places even more intense

“We’ll see how this week goes but hopefully they’ll come through it okay to be in there challenging. Nobody in the squad likes to be left out but you can only play three substitutes if necessary. We have a very tight knit dressing room and a belief we can beat anyone on our day and everyone naturally wants to be involved. I’d hoped to give the lads who were on the bench some game time with the reserves on Tuesday but the wet weather put the game off which was a pity.”

Winger Jonathan Wafula was recalled by Boston United last Friday after joining the Gladiators on a dual registration agreement with the Pilgrims. He was an unused substitute in Boston’s 3-0 FA Trophy defeat at Wrexham last weekend, which meant a recall for transfer listed Jordan Chapell.

“I didn’t expect Boston to recall Jonathan that quickly. They’d got injuries and illness, to be honest I’m unsure of what the latest position with him is at present. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it but credit to Jordan Chapell who came in on Saturday and played really well. He’s a great pro, he trains well but we need to be wary of our budget.”

Ian Richardson

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