Matlock were desperate to play their Derbyshire Senior Cup tie at home to Borrowash Victoria on Tuesday night, but the 4-1 victory and progress to the semi finals came at a potentially huge cost.
Top scorer Lewis McMahon went down under a challenge in the Vics half in the 35th minute and was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage, with McMahon himself tweeting on Wednesday “torn ankle ligaments, quite bad to be honest, few weeks on the sidelines, thank you for everyone’s kind tweets, gutted.”
McMahon had got on the scoresheet early with the Gladiators’ opener on 12 minutes for his 19th goal of a hitherto productive campaign before Phil Roe hit a twenty five yard screamer just two minutes later. Tommy Leighton halved the deficit at the mid point ofthe first half but a JoeLeesley penalty and a first goal in Matlock colours for Anthony Griffiths-Junior sent Matlock comfortably through.
Commenting directly after the game Matlock chief Mark Atkins said “At the moment it looks like a tennis ball at the side of his ankle, it’s tremendously disappointing not only for Lewis but for everyone at the club for he’s been playing especially well and scoring a lot of goals. There was nothing malicious in the challenge, it’s just one of those things.”
When confirmation came through on Wednesday that the Gladiators had drawn Chesterfield at home in the semi finals on a date to be confirmed, it would have done little to lighten McMahon’s mood. It is an attractive tie for Matlock that should attract a larger than usual crowd given the affinity between the clubs just ten miles apart.
Reflecting on the Borrowash match which was his side’s first since defeating Grantham 3-2 on January 12, Atkins added “It was a good workout for us after two and a bit weeks without a game. It was important to get on the pitch and beplaying although we didn’t play all that great. It was a comfortable win, they had just the one chance and I was happy we created chances and took some of them. Now with Lewis being out it gives others the opportunity to show what they can do.”
McMahon served a three game ban earlier in the season when strangely enough Matlock had a 100% record with wins away at Marine and Ilkeston and a home victory against Stalybridge Celtic in the FA Trophy. Atkins and the fans will be hoping for a similarly good run of results during McMahon’s second spell of absence.
That first game is a visit from eighth placed Ashton United on Saturday, a team who appear to have the Indian sign over the Gladiators at present. last season the Robins recorded a league double with a 3-0 victory at Hurst Cross on the opening day followed by a 2-0 win in Derbyshire in January. During the previous campaign, Matlock managed a point from a 1-1 home draw but on Tameside they suffered a 3-1 defeat in the league just seven days after a 1-0 League Cup semi final exit.
“Since I’ve been at Matlock I’ve always rated them as one of the best sides in the league, they work extremely hard for each other and have great spirit. They’ve signed some very good players as well so it’ll be a very tough game” said Atkins.
Matlock are down in seventeenth spot and will want to build on that Grantham win, which was their first at home in the league on a Saturday this season, quickly with another. Atkins is keen for Matlock to put a run of good results together and make strides up the league.
Adam Yates missed the Borrowash win with a sore area around the bottom of his back, but good news for Gladiators fans is that Atkins expects Yates to be fit to face Ashton. Winger Ben Hunter may also make his first appearance since returning from North Ferriby.
Atkins also revealed he has put a seven day notice of approach in for a defender.