“Don’t spoil it now” is manager Mark Hume’s message to his Matlock Town side who won their relegation battle with a match to spare last Saturday.

A comfortable 3-1 home victory over King’s Lynn finally pulled the Gladiators over the finishing line in an impressive late run of form which has seen them take eight points from the last twelve on offer. Now Hume wants another good result in their final league outing of the campaign at Ramsbottom on Saturday before they aim to lift their first trophy in five years when they take on Evo-Stik NPL First Division play off chasing Gresley at the Proact Stadium on Monday night in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final.

“We want to finish the season on a high by doing well at Ramsbottom and then if we could win the Senior Cup that would be the icing on the cake, it would be a good night out for everyone at the club and a nice and well deserved reward for the players” Hume added.

Gresley might be involved in the play offs with a semi final on either Tuesday or Wednesday should they gain a good result at Stafford Rangers on Saturday and other league results go their way.

Hume says he knows very little about Gresley but says he will be doing his homework before Monday.

“I’ve plenty of friends involved in that league so I’ll be making some phone calls to find out what I can about them. We won’t be taking them lightly, that’s for sure, and we must continue to show the form which has seen us do so well in our last four games.”

There was a sense of relief in the Gladiators camp at staying up. Few observers, and Matlock’s own fans included, gave them much of a chance of retaining their top flight status when they were stuck deep in the drop zone in January, six points adrift of safety and just one point in front of the basement club.

But Hume came in and changed Matlock’s fortunes around dramatically, particularly in February when the Gladiators won five league matches on the trot and beat Glossop North End to reach the Senior Cup Final. Fans have even referred to him as a miracle worker.

“I’m not so sure about the miracle worker bit but without wanting to sound arrogant, I knew we could turn this around” Hume insisted.

“Scott (Maxfield) and Grant (Black) have been a tremendous help, I think we’re good together. To be honest, we thought it’d go to the last game but we’ve got the job done and that’s a relief. Scott and Grant deserve a lot of credit. Managers get flack when things go wrong so when things work out it’s nice to receive praise. I knew the players we needed to bring in, we had to get the best out of all the players at the club. Having been captain at a lot of teams I’d played with, I knew it was important that we had a good dressing room. we’ve had that and it’s played a big part for us.”

Hume is already looking ahead to next season.

“We’re now going into a new chapter, we won’t be celebrating escaping relegation, don’t forget that Matlock Town shouldn’t be in the position they’ve been in for much of this season and we don’t want it to be that way again. With the clubs coming up and coming down into the division, it’ll be a tough league next season but in my eyes we should be aiming for a high mid table spot and perhaps pushing for a play off spot, that’s the aim, and not be in trouble.”

The Town chief is expected to rest two or three of his players at Ramsbottom ahead of the final, especially as some are carrying injuries. Midfielder Nicky Travis though will not feature in either game. He was ineligible for the final in any event having been signed on too late and his red card against Buxton on Easter Monday rules him out of the Ramsbottom trip. A win at the Riverside Ground coupled with favourable results elsewhere could see Matlock finish as high as 13th.

Cup Final tickets are priced at nine pounds for adults, five pounds for concessions and two pounds for children under 12 years accompanied by an adult and they can be purchased at the Club Shop (01629 583866) or at Matlock Design and Print on Steep Turnpike. Transport will be operating to the Proact Stadium leaving the Autoworld Arena at 6.15 pm, and places can be booked at the Club Shop or by ringing Tom Wright (07850 065968) or Stewart Else (07703 185096).

IAN RICHARDSON

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