It’s great being a Matlock Town fan at the moment topped by events on and off the field in the past few days.
The Gladiators provided a major upset in knocking Conference Premier play off chasers Mansfield Town out of the FA Trophy in Tuesday night’s replay after a 1-1 draw on Saturday at the One Call Stadium. The Stags were lucky to force a replay as their goalkeeper Shane Redmond pulled off a cracking penalty save from Lewis McMahon and an even better stop from James Ashmore’s follow up. Then in the dying seconds a Bradley Grayson shot was hacked off the line. Then in the second game Mansfield led at the break but Matlock totally dominated the second half to equalise through Lewis McMahon on 50 minutes before Massiah McDonald again stole the show with a last minute winner.
McDonald provides the other big news of the week from the Reynolds Stadium, finally making his move from Worksop Town a permanent one, although he will spend a third month as a loan player at Matlock first.
According to Chief Executive Keith Brown, hours of hard work brought Matlock the player manager Mark Atkins and the fans were desperate to see continuing in their number nine shirt.
“We’ve been talking with Worksop all week” Brown explained on Monday after the paperwork was all completed. “We’re pleased to announce that when Massiah’s current loan period expires in December he’ll be a contract player with Matlock Town. An undisclosed fee has been agreed with Worksop Town and a pre contract agreement has been settled with the player.”
The 22 year old has had a recent unhappy time at Worksop and playing for the Gladiators seems to have given him a new lease of life.
Atkins has been referred to as a genius by McDonald on his Twitter account and the manager has admired him for some time.
“I’ve watched him for two years and liked what I’ve seen. He’s been played out on the wing but I’ve always felt he would be great as a centre forward playing down the middle. He’s come to us on loan, scored goals (his winner against Mansfield was his eighth) and worked hard for the team so he deserves great credit. He’s won us games, he’s a fantastic signing and his and everyone’s hard work has been rewarded.”
On the Mansfield tie as a whole the manager added “We fully deserved to win it. We knew it would be difficult in the replay after we’d played so well on Saturday. We didn’t get going in the opening twenty minutes and went 1-0 down to a great strike but to our great credit we fought hard and had two great opportunities just before half time. we had a few words at half time and I told the lads we needed to get playing football again. We did that from the first to the last whistle and could have won more comfortably. Everyone’s done their job over the two games, we knew we had to be at our best, we’ve got a system and a way of playing that suits everyone. e knew we could give them a game and it’s a fantastic achievement to beat a top Conference Premier side in the manner we did.”
Atkins dedicated the win to the Matlock committee, behind the scenes workers and the fans.
“We couldn’t have got this result without the tremendous backing from the committee, everyone behind the scenes who work so hard and our fans who were fantastic at Mansfield” said Atkins. “During the past six or seven weeks especially I’ve had tremendous support from the committee. There’s so many people working so hard behind the scenes, unsung heroes, it’s incredible, they’re all vitally important and quite simply this great football club couldn’t run without them and it’s extremely well run. It’s important also we carry this run of good form on, this win is dedicated to all those people.”
Matlock’s reward for a second cup upset over the Stags (they won 5-2 at Field Mill in an FA Cup 2nd Round clash in December 1976) is a home tie with either Luton Town or Dorchester Town on December 15.The sides drew 2-2 in Dorset on Tuesday.
Attention now firmly turns to collecting more league points starting at Whitby on Saturday.
“After the game I told them to enjoy their night but then everything is focused on Whitby, we need points in the league and it’ll be a good test and show what character we’ve got in the team. I think we’ve got a good squad of players now, Oscar (Radford) and Anthony (Griffiths-Junior) are available on Saturday (both are cup tied in the FA Trophy). The lads have done great and a couple might need a rest at the weekend. We’ve got about eighteen players who I wouldn’t think twice about starting if I had to.”