Just as they thought their injury problems were receding,Matlock Town could find themselves back at square one.
Victory in a bruising sometimes vicious Doodson Sport League cup quarter final bout at home to First Division North Farsley on Tuesday night has given them a second cup semi final appearance of the campaign, but worryingly it has left the Gladiators with a lengthy casualty list once again.
No fewer than six players who featured on Tuesday will have to be assessed ahead of this Saturday’s long trip to Kendal.
The one that everyone is talking about is top scorer Lewis McMahon who in his first start since sustaining ankle ligament damage against Borrowash Victoria back on January 29 was poleaxed by a thigh high studded challenge from Farsley’s Matt Dempsey early in the second half. Dempsey was booked rather than ordered off after opposing players squared up to each other.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins was seething during the game and still angry afterwards.
“That challenge on Lewis was disgraceful and a straight rd card in anyone’s book” he rapped. “In fact he’s really lucky it’s not a bad break and a career ending injury. He’s got stud marks around his hip bone and it’s swelled up badly so I really can’t see him being ready for Kendal.”
Other injuries collected by Matlock players during the game are goalkeeper Jon Kennedy (leg), Massiah McDonald (ankle in his first game back after suspension), Micky Harcourt (hamstring strain),Laurence Gaughan (back) and Gareth Davies (knee). And just to add to their problems, skipper James Lukic will serve a one game ban following his harsh and controversial dismissal at Hednesford a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ll have to wait until training on Thursday and see how everyone is” said Atkins. “While I was delighted to win the game and reach another semi final, when it got to the hour point I was chiefly concerned with getting as many players off the pitch at the end fit and well. We’d played some excellent football in the first half and created two good chances to score two very good goals. we’d passed the ball around well and I said to the lads at half time that their only way back was to try and get at us physically. We didn’t play well in the second half but did enough to deservedly win the game.”
Having drawn their last three league games, the latest last weekend in a 0-0 stalemate at home to Whitby, Matlock ideally will be hoping for a three point return against the struggling Lake District side who are in 20th spot but fourteen points adrift of the Gladiators with two games in hand.
“Kendal are fighting for their lives so we can expect a tough game up there, we may have to go there with a weakened side, we’ll have to see but we’ll go there wanting to keep our little unbeaten run going and ideally win the game” Atkins continued.
Young strikers Joe Leesley and Brad Grayson are expected to have recovered from outbreaks of sickness and diahorrea which forced them to miss out against Farsley.
It was Grayson who had Matlock’s best two opportunities in the second half against Whitby.
“Over the ninety minutes a draw was just about fair” Atkins reckoned. “Both sides struggled to find the level of performance they wanted but we had the two best chances, Brad’s one on ones with the goalkeeper who deserves credit for two excellent saves. We were better in the opening twenty odd minutes of the second half than we’d been in the first half. Then the game opened up a bit too much for my liking but we got a clean sheet which is a positive.”
Matlock are back at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday in league fare against play off hopefuls AFC Fylde, who Atkins describes as being “on a great run having won a lot of games, strong and powerful.”
The Gladiators have signed Boston USA born Portuguese midfielder Geoffrey Guiveia who has recently been released by Lincoln City. Guiveia replaced McMahon against Farsley and was inches away from a memorable debut goal within nine minutes of coming on.
Matlock now know their opponents in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final. Ilkeston FC beat Alfreton Town 2-0 on Tuesday to set up the final at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium on Tuesday April 30.