Matlock Town’s fine season to date took yet another impressive step forward on Tuesday night when they dumped FA Trophy holders FC Halifax Town out of this season’s competition at the first time of asking in their own back yard.

An 81st minute leveller from the Shaymens’Alex Simmons cancelled out Curtis Morrison’s 44th minute opener to give the Conference North outfit a rather fortunate replay. Halifax looked hot favourites but Matlock had other ideas. Morrison played a key part in all three Matlock goals in the replay, as a Marcus Dinanga brace gave the Gladiators a two goal half time lead. Halifax rallied and were level by the 67th minute, but Ted Cribley stepped up to the plate to fire Matlock into the 1st Round Proper and a clash at Conference National Solihull Moors on Saturday week.

Matlock’s joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins were all smiles afterwards.

“I’m simply buzzing, it was totally deserved” said Kirkwood.

Hopkins was more detailed in his assessment of his side’s shock win.

“It was a great result and is the best at any club we’ve managed. It’s a scalp, there’s no doubt about that, to beat the cup holders from a higher division on their home ground, and remember, be the best side in both games. We knew it would be difficult at Halifax, but with this set of lads we’re not really surprised, each and every one of them is extremely capable. It’s also not the first time they’ve come out on top when a lot of people expected them not to win. When we went to Workington we weren’t given much of a chance at all but won there 3-1 twice in a week. We’ve got a set of lads with the desire to do well and I’m sure the fans can see that.”

Hopkins said his side should have won the tie at the first time of asking at the DCJ Group Arena.

“We were disappointed not to win on Saturday,it got to the point late on when we thought we’d taken the sting out of it a little bit, then football has a nasty habit of biting you on the backside. But we knew it was a big open pitch at Halifax and we said we’d come here and give it a right good go. The players were excellent right through from one to eleven. There’s some now tired, a little quiet but chuffed to bits because they’ve given everything, that’s all we can ask of them.”

One of the standout facets of the victory was the combination of young forwards Morrison and Dinanga as Halifax struggled to contain them in both matches,

“Our front two have been superb, nineteen year old boys learning their trade, a real handful and popular in the dressing room, and we like to think that we as managers, plus the rest of the players have helped them for they’re both giving us everything they’ve got.”

Hopkins and Kirkwood’s philosophy is to take one game at a time so that means all of their attention is set on Saturday’s league trip to Stafford Rangers and there was a word of warning from Hopkins about Stafford.

“We know what Stafford are like, similar to Barwell, big, strong and organised. I’m good pals with their manager, we know how they play so it’ll be a big test on their pitch. We’ve had a week off the league, but were poor in our last league match at Barwell, but we’ll be back on Saturday looking to win the game and hopefully be full of confidence after Halifax.”

Matlock then travel to Ilkeston in the Derbyshire Senior Cup on Tuesday.

Joint boss Craig Hopkins thanked the Matlock fans who vociferously backed their side in the FA Trophy replay win at Halifax and then asked for a big following in future games, particularly at Conference National Solihull in the next round.

“Again Kirky me and the staff and players thank them for their great support. At one point I came to the fans to ask them to up the volume which they did. Possibly like us they were on the edge of their seats when Halifax looked as if they were coming back into it, but they responded and played a great part. When they’re cheering and chanting, it gives the lads a big lift, the players love it and want it to continue.”

Matlock will be arranging transport to Solihull on Saturday week (December 10) for fans leaving the DCJ Group Arena at 12 noon. To book your place contact either the Club Shop on 01629 583866 or Tom Wright on 07850 065968 with there being no home games prior to the fixture.

“It’s a great tie for us playing a Conference National side on their home ground. They’re a good side having won the Conference |North last season but we’ll again go there and give it our best shot. We want as many Matlock fans there as possible to get behind the lads and again be our twelfth man” added Hopkins.

Ian Richardson

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