Having hit the headlines with some tremendous performances in the FA Trophy, Matlock Town now have to transfer that form into their league games plus make progress in the Derbyshire Senior and Doodson Sport League Cups.
They certainly made a good start by convincingly beating Gresley 3-1 in the Senior Cup at the Moat Ground on Tuesday. The Gladiators were in charge for most of the contest and it needed a succession of top class saves from home goalkeeper Gary Hateley to prevent a rout.
“It was good to get back to winning ways after losing the last three games” manager Mark Atkins admitted.”It was a great response and their keeper’s made six or seven great saves. Apart from a couple of sloppy defensive moments we were superb and passed and moved the ball around really well and won convincingly.”
The win earned the Gladiators a home tie with East Midlands Football League Borrowash Victoria in the last eight on Tuesday January 15. The Vics beat New Mills 3-2 after extra time in their 3rd Round clash.
While Matlock dominated the Gresley tie the boot was firmly on the other foot last Saturday but it still took a last gasp disputed goal to see the Conference National promotion chasers make FA Trophy progress. The Hatters dominated possession and twice struck the woodwork with Town goalkeeper Jon Kennedy also in fine form. But it was 1-1 going into the last minute when Jon Shaw’s volley was ruled to have crossed the line despite Kennedy’s best attempts to keep it out.
But whether it crossed the line or not, and photographic evidence suggests it did, wasn’t Matlock’s bone of contention as Atkins explained.
“When Jacob (Hazel) went down with a head injury we had the ball when play was stopped so you’d expect Luton would give it us back. They didn’t and after a drop ball it was knocked forward and a free kick given which was never a foul, that’s what made the lads so irate. But that’s football, sometimes things like that go for you, this time it didn’t.”
The Town chief was full of praise for his players.
“I’m so proud of them, they gave everything. When you sit down and look at things afterwards we’ve knocked out and outplayed a top Conference side in Mansfield and come within a minute of holding another. We couldn’t go gung-ho especially with our top striker out, given Luton’s attacking quality they might have been out of sight in an open game if we had. What pleased me the most was that we continued playing our football when we had the chance.”
League points are now the immediate priority in a tough and hectic festive programme which begins at home to FC United of Manchester on Saturday. Then comes away games at Rushall Olympic on Boxing day and Worksop Town next weekend before 2013 starts with a home New Years Day derby with Buxton. All four opponents have play off aspirations but Matlock have proved with their wins at home to Chorley and at Marine that they are capable of beating the better teams.
United beat them 4-0 at Bury back in August when they were ravaged by injuries and the Town line up should show a significant number of changes from the one which lined up at Gigg Lane.
“We say it every time we play them, they have a lot of quality and we need to be on top of our game, but on our day we can beat anyone and we need to transfer our FA Trophy form into upcoming games.”
Full back Micky Harcourt starts a two match ban on Saturday while there are doubts about midfielders Glyn Cotton and Martin Foster following the Gresley win. Jon Kennedy will return in goal after work commitments meant that Nick Buxton deputised for him in midweek while Phil Roe should also be back after a slight knock sustained against Luton led to him not being risked.
But the biggest boost of all should be the return of striker Massiah McDonald who will be raring to go if his Twitter account is anything to go by. Suspension had ruled him out of the Luton and Gresley matches.
Another forward,Jacob Hazel joined in time to face Luton as a second half substitute on loan for a month from Chesterfield and will also be in contention at the weekend. Joe Leesley, although named as a substitute in the Trophy tie, did not make it on to the pitch after being ill all week and missing training.
Matlock’s reserve side beat Glossop North End 3-0 to progress in the Derbyshire Divisional Cup (North) last weekend through strikes from Tom Laister, Danny Bateman and Jack Marples.
The draw for the 3rd Round of theDootson Sports League Cup sees Matlock have home advantage against either Carlton Town or Ossett Town on Tuesday January 22.