Glenn Kirkwood insists Saturday’s trip for his seventh placed Gladiators to table topping Whitby, unbeaten at home this season, is not a promotion clash.

Matlock jumped two places up the table after their narrow 2-1 success against Barwell at the DCJ Group Arena on Tuesday, their third league win on the bounce. Their current form of only one league defeat in ten league outings has got fans in the town talking after some mediocre seasons recently. If that turnaround is remarkable, Whitby’s is even more so, embroiled in a relegation battle for much of the last couple of campaigns and now leading the table with some impressive performances and scorelines.

“We’re not thinking about promotion, relegation or anything, all we can think about is doing our best to win the next game. We know that Whitby have had an unbelievable season, so well done to them, but we’re going to go up there and hopefully enjoy ourselves and do our utmost to bring back the three points. We know what we’ll get out of these lads we have, fantastic workrate and effort.”

Kirkwood admits the absence of skipper Adam Yates through a one game ban after collecting five yellow cards is a blow, but he believes Nico de Girolamo will rise to the challenge at the Turnbull Ground.

“Ideally we’d like to have Adam playing on Saturday, it’s a blow but something we can comfortably cope with. Adam’s a magnificent player but don’t forget that in the three games before Spennymoor, Nico de Girolamo was also magnificent.”

Those ethics of workrate and effort have been clearly demonstrated in Town’s last two matches.

Last weekend they travelled to NPL Premier Division title favourites Spennymoor Town in the FA Trophy without the unavailable Ted Cribley, the banned Michael Williams and the injured Marc Newsham but came away with a memorable 2-1 victory. Then after looking like a well oiled machine in the opening half against Barwell, Matlock had to do the ugly side of the game well as they held out for an identical win.

“It was an outstanding battling performance at Spennymoor and the lads have stopped surprising us with how well they play and how much they want to win. They’ve done really well and they keep on doing it and doing it and when we don’t play as well with the ball they keep on grafting. The lads who came in last week were absolutely superb. We don’t have the biggest squad in the world, so look at Alex Pursehouse who came in and played centre midfield, a position that’s alien to him and produced a great performance. Jamie Yates is a really likeable lad and we’re delighted how well he played, he put a real shift in despite not having much game time so far.”

Kirkwood admits both Matlock goals, netted by Niall McManus and Curtis Morrison were fortuitous.

“They were both on the fortunate side but you still have to be in those positions to benefit, luckily
for us their goalkeeper’s had a stinker, but we’re not complaining for you make your own luck.”

Moving on to the Barwell win Kirkwood said “We did well against a good side, a typical NPL side, sharp and strong. Ideally we’d have been in front by more but their goalkeeper’s played well and we’ve missed chances. In the second half Barwell went more direct and give them credit, they stopped us from playing, but we defended very well apart from that blip near the end. Our only bit of quality in the second half brought us the second goal but we stuck at it, that’s the pleasing thing and it showed the spirit we have.”

Matlock will travel to Grantham Town in the next round of the FA Trophy on Saturday week after the Gingerbreads emphatically won their home replay 4-0 against Stratford Town. The two sides will be battling for league points first though as they clash at the DCJ Group Arena on Tuesday.

Ian Richardson

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