Matlock Town joint boss Glenn Kirkwood was full of praise for the Gladiators academy despite their successful campaign ending on a disappointing note on Sunday with the narrow League Cup Final defeat by Warrington Town at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium.
The Academy Blues had already won the Joma Division title and had lost out to a last minute goal to Chryso Division Mickleover Sports at Leek in showdown between the two league winners to decide the overall champions. The Academy Royals had finished third in in the Chryso Division.
Kirkwood travelled to Stoke last weekend and was impressed with what he saw.
“With work commitments I don’t often get to see them, the odd one or two train with us but on Sunday I went down with the family and was really impressed. They lost but didn’t deserve it. Warrington had one shot all the game . Our young lads passed the ball about well and worked their socks off and that’s what me and Hoppo are all about. It was obvious the lads were gutted but they can hold their heads up high and they were a credit to Jamie Yates and their coaches and the club.”
Kirkwood spotted elements in their display which he believes are very much in line with how the first team operates.
“Hard work and togetherness were there in abundance. Togetherness is so important, you can’t have players with egos, that’s the worst thing in football. It’s all about the team, individuals have to realise there’s fifteen or so more in the squad. Team spirit then comes with winning and you could see that with our academy lads. The Warrington keeper made two or three unbelievable saves, it just wasn’t to be for them on the day.”
Kirkwood added that he and fellow joint boss Craig Hopkins would continue to keep a close eye on the youngsters’ progress.
“They’re still learning, but it’s brilliant for the club and we’ll continue to have them training with the senior side although it’s a massive step from academy to first team level. But they’re at the right club, the pathway for them is there through the reserves and they have to keep going.”
Two more first team friendly games have been arranged with the Gladiators visiting South Normanton Athletic on Monday 17 July and Staveley Miners Welfare on Wednesday 26 July.
Meanwhile Matlock’s first team and academy shirts will be sponsored by MVIS for a second season.
Founded in 2012, MVIS have a depot in Matlock and are known as one of the most trusted suppliers of temporary traffic event and safety management solutions in the country.
Matlock Chairman Tom Wright is delighted with the sponsorship renewal.
“This is tremendous news and we would like to thank Anne Ashman, Pat Musgrave and all the staff at MVIS for their continued support. Sponsorship deals such as these are vital to clubs at our level and we are extremely pleased and privileged to again have MVIS on our teams’ shirts.”