While his Matlock Town team mates were dominating a youthful Chesterfield side to reach the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final for the first time since they last won it in 2010, Oscar Radford had to make do with social media updates in his hospital bed back in Rotherham.
The twenty years old former Doncaster Rovers defender, who had a loan spell at Matlock last season before joining the Gladiators on a permanent basis last October after financial problems at previous club Kettering Town, was the victim of a poor challenge from Nantwich substitute Josh Lane, who was sent off in Matlock’s fine 1-0 win at the Weaver Stadium last Saturday.
Initially it was feared that Radford had a broken leg, but an initial visit to a hospital in Crewe allayed these concerns, but the injury, consisting of two deep gashes down his shin, still required two operations back at Rotherham to clean out and close up the wounds. H e was released from hospital on Wednesday and is hoping to be at the Reynolds Stadium this weekend to cheer the Gladiators on in their home Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division clash with seventh placed Witton Albion.
“It was a bad one and he’s been very lucky not to have had a broken leg” said Matlock boss Mark Atkins in midweek. “But the operations went well and hopefully now he can begin the recovery process. We ought to thank the directors and officials over at Nantwich, plus their lady physio and the paramedics for the way they looked after Oscar and also I know Oscar thanks them plus the fans, both ours and those at Nantwich and elsewhere, plus fellow players who have all sent get well messages and words of support.”
A solitary goal from Anthony Griffiths-Junior in the 27th minute gave Matlock a vital three points on a day when everyone else in and around the bottom eight were beaten.
“It was a good performance and I felt we deserved the three points” Atkins continued, as a repeat of the horror show of the opening day 5-0 home defeat to the Dabbers never looked on.
“We could have gone in at half time 3-0 up as Massiah’s (McDonald) had a couple of good chances he was unlucky not to convert. We said we had to try and get in behind them down the outside and that’s just what happened. The second half was a non event until the injury to Oscar, but I never felt we’d concede so we were well in control” he added.
Matlock went on to beat Chesterfield 2-1, thanks to a brace from McDonald after Jacob Hazel, who had a short loan spell with the Gladiators in December, had given the Spireites an 11th minute lead from the penalty spot. The margin should have been more convincing but Atkins was happy enough to reach the final.
“It was disappointing to fall behind but we responded well, we kept on playing our football and were never in any trouble. I dare say that the Witton game will be a different proposition as we won’t get the time and space we had against Chesterfield.”
Newly promoted Witton are battling hard for a play off place and Atkins is expecting a hard game, particularly with little scope for manipulation in his small squad.
“They’re a good side so it’ll be tough but we want to keep our good run going. It’s difficult though as tiredness can creep in when it’s the same players being used in every game.”
Full back Micky Harcourt begins a three match ban but will likely be replaced by Laurence Gaughan who has just completed his two games disciplinary sanction. Atkins has also brought in left winger Lavell White, once a youngster at Manchester United, but signed from Eastwood Town after impressing Atkins in the 3-3 draw between the clubs at Coronation Park earlier this month.
“He played very well against us and has some real talent, so we put in seven days notice of approach on him and he’s joined us on a deal within our current budget structure” Atkins explained.
Matlock go to Grantham Town in the last sixteen of the Doodson Sports League Cup on Tuesday with the winners facing First Division North Farsley FC at home in the quarter finals on March 19.
Their opponents in the Senior Cup Final have yet to be determined with Ilkeston FC hosting Alfreton Town in the other semi final on March 18. The venue for the final is also yet to be announced. Originally it had been set for Pride Park, but it could now be at Chesterfield who have hosted it for the last two seasons.
Meanwhile Matlock’s home league meeting with FC United of Manchester has been put back twenty four hours from Tuesday March 5 to Wednesday March 6. Manchester United host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League tie on the Tuesday and it was felt that this could affect the gate if the game was played on that night. Both FC United and The Evo-Stik League gave their approval to the change of night.