Manager Mark Hume believes his squad is getting stronger after his below strength Gladiators won an epic FA Trophy clash against Blyth Spartans last Saturday.
In a match labelled by many as “the best for years at the Lane”, Matlock upped their prize money from their run in the competition to £10,000 after their 4-2 victory.
With Micky Harcourt ruled out following his head injury against Sutton Coldfield, Hume was handed two further blows with midfielder Nicky Travis struck down by sickness, and then barely a quarter of an hour before kick off, Laurie Wilson injured a calf in the pre match warm up and was a late, late casualty.
If lady luck was against Matlock in the build up, she certainly smiled on them during a pulsating ninety minutes of open end to end football with a mountain of chances, Blyth striking the woodwork three times and George Willis pulling off a catalogue of impressive saves.
“It was a fantastic game, a credit to non league and it could have gone either way with all of the chances that were created. It was also a battle against the elements with honest mistakes, but the pouring rain and skiddy conditions didn’t stop the great football” said Hume.
“We’d lost three important players, they had Robbie Dale out who’s a fantastic player, but there were things there to test us and we showed great character, especially losing Laurie so close to the kick off but Harry (Coates) did very well after being named as a substitute originally and needing five or ten minutes to get into the game. Admittedly things didn’t look good when we went 1-0 down so early, but I’d told the lads beforehand we don’t want a replay up there, lets go out there and do the job, that’s why I went a bit more gung-ho at 2-2, it was really a 4-2-4, I might try that a bit more often.”
Reserve striker Jack Siddall became an instant hero, putting Matlock back in front with the vital third goal a quarter of an hour after replacing skipper Danny Holland.
“Jack’s was a fantastic finish, he’s a fantastic lad who always wants to learn and will come asking you for advice. He’s had a good grounding at Scunthorpe, he knows the type of runs to make, and I now regard him as being part of our first team squad” Hume added.
Siddall’s reward was a starting place in Tuesday’s Integro Sport Doodson Cup home defeat to Daventry when two more local youngsters, reserve team players Tom Laister and Sam Lavelle had full games and Matt Wilkinson played the entire second half.
“I wanted to have a look at them for they’ve done really well in training. It’s a big step up but none let themselves down and the talent we have at the club shows we are going in the right direction with our reserve and academy sides”.
Monday’s draw for the 1st Round Proper of the FA Trophy was disappointing in so far as Matlock must travel to current Evo- Stik NPL Premier Division leaders Nantwich Town on Saturday week. Privately the Gladiators were probably hoping for a tie with one of the Conference National big boys in Tranmere, Wrexham or Lincoln City.
“Yes we’d probably have liked a Tranmere or Grimsby but if we can get through this game, maybe we’ll get it in the next round. I would imagine Nantwich may be thinking the same as us, but we’re up against a good footballing side with a nice ground and a nice pitch, so we’ll take what we’re given.”
Matlock are at home again on Saturday against what Hume describes as a “good, physical Barwell side”, eager to keep a comfortable distance between themselves in 16th spot and the relegation places. Then on Tuesday night their defence of the Derbyshire Senior Cup begins at Belper Town.
New signing Alex Peterson, a 21 years old six foot striker formerly with Doncaster Rovers and signed from Scarborough Athletic, is likely to be involved after being cup tied against Daventry.
“I’ve had my eye on him for a while, he’s got height and a good presence and a bit of what we need” said Hume. “We’ve got Niall (McManus) whose nippy, the guile of Joel Purkiss, Jack coming through and Danny as well. Danny cannot always do a full ninety minutes so both Alex and Danny could act as target men and even line up together. Also now our bench is getting stronger and strength in depth is something I’ve been looking for.”
Meanwhile Hume was praised at Matlock’s AGM on Monday night by Treasurer Jeremy Taylor who reported a surplus of £7234 for the year ending 31 May 2015.
“Expenditure on wages is down on the previous year and that is down to Mark Hume who did a fantastic job in keeping us in this division and also winning the Derbyshire Senior Cup on a reduced budget” Taylor told the meeting.