Matlock travel to Hyde United in the league on Saturday and welcome Alfreton Town to the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night in the semi final of the Derbyshire Senior Cup still looking for their first win and goal in 2019.

Last Saturday’s home clash with Basford United was called off after a sharp overnight frost which saw many local non league games follow suit.

Gladiators boss Dave Frecklington was disappointed to be idle but it gave him the chance to take a look at a future opponent, taking in Grantham versus Workington with Matlock due to visit the South Kesteven Stadium on February 23.

“It was a blow as we’d prepared and trained well on both the Tuesday and Thursday and apart from Marcus Marshall and Cleveland Taylor, we had a full squad available. It was a new month after a disappointing January, we wanted the chance to get back on the horse and pick up some points. But it did give us time to stand back and reflect on things, I went to Grantham so I suppose it wasn’t too bad after all.”

Hyde have sneaked ahead of tenth placed Matlock in the table and Frecklington expects a tough game on Hyde’s artificial surface.

“Darren Kelly’s done a fantastic job there. Just after we joined the club we played Hyde at Matlock when I think the clubs were 21st and 20th so both sides have turned their seasons around. They scored eight at Basford and have also beaten South Shields 4-1 so they’re no mugs and I suppose it’s advantage Hyde on their 3G pitch. But we’re confident we can go there and get a result, there’s the incentive of possibly going seventh with a win. We’ve worked hard again and have been concentrating on the things we’ve not been so good at in recent matches. We’ve been competitive and the lads have worked their socks off. I can’t question their effort and application, we just need to be a bit brighter in the final third.”

Adam Yates scored Matlock’s last goal, a 44th minute equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Buxton on Boxing Day. Since then, Matlock have fired blanks against Gainsborough Trinity, Lancaster City, Witton Albion, Scarborough Athletic and Nantwich Town. But defensively they have improved from conceding an average of two and a half goals per game to have let in only five in five outings.

“It’s a fine balancing act that we’re the wrong side of at the moment. We’ve tightened up defensively but we’ve dried up at the other end but I’m convinced we’re not far off from being a very good side” Frecklington insisted.

“We need to take one game at a time, Hyde first then we’ll look at Alfreton. If we can get a good result against Hyde, it’ll set us up for Tuesday against a big, strong, physical and good Conference North side in Alfreton. We’ll have nothing to lose though, the pressure will all be on Alfreton being the higher league side but we’ll be doing all we can to make the final.”

Tuesday’s winners will play Mickleover Sports towards the end of the season.

Meanwhile there is a fear that striker Marcus Marshall’s knee injury could see him miss the rest of the season and midfielder Cleveland Taylor’s knee injury is still a concern.

“Marcus and Cleveland are both having scans through the PFA” said Frecklington. “Marcus’ swelling’s been there for two or three weeks which is a concern and he could miss the rest of the season. We thought Cleveland would be out for a couple of weeks but it’s going on two months now so it’s a worry.”

New loan signing Jonny Margetts missed training on Tuesday through illness and will be assessed on Thursday ahead of the Hyde trip when he hopes to make his Matlock debut.

Ian Richardson

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