If Matlock Town are to earn a first ever home win against league rivals Blyth Spartans in Saturday’s FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round tie, they hope they will not have to do it without someone who manager Mark Hume rates as “one of the best full backs in the league.”

Micky Harcourt who was knocked to the ground during an extraordinary series of events after just 20 minutes had to be taken to hospital for treatment for head and facial injuries but was allowed home later that evening. He has now returned to work and is anxious to play on Saturday but a decision regarding his fitness based on medical grounds will be taken later in the week.

In this extraordinary series of events during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Sutton Coldfield Town at the Autoworld Arena, Craig Nelthorpe was also forced off with head and eye injuries after a separate incident with an opponent. Sutton had striker Luke Rodgers and unused substitute Steve Palmer sent off with manager Neil Tooth also receiving a red card for his protests to referee Hristo Karaivanov.

Hume agreed Nelthorpe was correctly booked for “a silly tackle” before the fracas but added, “I’ve never seen anything like that. Look at the statistics, we had nobody sent off and no blame can be attached to us for what happened after Craig’s challenge which had been dealt with by the referee by giving him a caution.”

Once order was restored after a delay of a quarter of an hour, Hume felt Matlock were “worse off” even though they had a one man advantage.

“It was two points dropped in one way but also what happened had a negative effect on us for a while and I had to have a good chat with the players at half time when they found themselves 2-1 down. We scored two good goals again, it should have been enough to win it but we gave away two sloppy goals, particularly the first one which was a real sickener after our good start.”

Injuries ruled out captain Danny Holland, defender Harry Coates and loanee Ryan Fallowfield but all should be available for a return to face Blyth., Scott Maxfield who starts a two game ban after his dismissal at Spalding will be missing from the squad for the Blyth and Daventry fixtures

“Hopefully there’ll be one player coming in this week but he’s cup tied” said Hume. “Danny was touch and go last week but it was too much of a risk to play him in case we ended up losing him for another two or three weeks.

Hume reassured fans that the search will go on.

“People keep talking about loan players but we’ll never again get any of the calibre we got from Sheffield United last season, we were very lucky to get them, it can’t happen every year. Clubs seem to be pushing their more established young players to Conference North and above, it’s the really young lads that seem to be coming to our level. We’ve tried to bring three or four players in on permanent deals but they’ve decided to stay where they are. We can’t force them to come, they probably feel happier staying where they’re doing well rather than having to possibly wait for a place in the side.”

The Gladiators and Blyth met at this stage of the Trophy back in November 1993 when Spartans, then a leading Northern League club, won 3-1 at Causeway Lane. A replay if needed, will take place at Croft Park on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Matlock have announced reduced admission charges for the Daventry tie of £8 for adults and £5 for concessions.

Ian Richardson

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