As injured players begin to return and Matlock’s impressive unbeaten league run was extended to eight matches in glorious fashion at Nantwich last Saturday, manager Dave Frecklington says everyone must keep their feet firmly on the ground.
After two unlucky cup exits, the Gladiators travelled to second placed Nantwich and after being a goal down at the interval, they smashed the Dabbers unbeaten eleven match record with a 4-1 victory to become the first team to win at the Weaver Stadium this season. Matlock then won their first cup game of the season as Shirebrook were blown away in the first half when Frecklington’s troops scored all of their five goals in a 5-1 verdict.

“Expectations have gone through the roof but we must all keep our feet firmly on the ground” said Frecklington as he prepares for Saturday’s rearranged home clash with Bamber Bridge.

Reflecting on the last two results he added that he has been “really pleased” with the way things had gone.

“At Nantwich there was loads of character and our team spirit came shining through. Half way through we had to change the way we played as we pressed really high up the field and were camped in their territory. We found quality in the final third, in fact we were ruthless in both boxes, defending really well and scoring some great goals and to win 4-1 against a very good side like Nantwich shows the quality we have. They (Nantwich) were unbeaten in eleven games and unbeaten at home, in second place like Warrington when we went there and won. We kept our shape and our discipline and could have had five or six. Beating sides like Warrington and Nantwich shows we’re capable of beating anyone in the league.”

Tuesday’s Derbyshire Senior Cup win brought about a different challenge with Matlock odds on favourites to progress. Frecklington showed his intentions in the county trophy by naming a strong side, making only one change from the team which started in Cheshire as new signing Michael Hollingsworth from Grantham Town replaced the injured Harry Vince in midfield.

“I was really pleased with the attitude of the players, we asked them for professionalism and they responded by putting the game to bed early doors. To be 5-0 up at half time was brilliant. I was disappointed with the second half but we’ve got through the tie injury free and also given some academy lads a chance in the second half.”

Matlock now face Belper at home in the quarter finals on Tuesday December 4.

Looking ahead to Bamber Bridge, Frecklington wants to maintain the progress the Gladiators have made in his opening two months at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

“Bamber Bridge is our biggest game of the season because it’s our next game. We’ve set targets, firstly to get out of the bottom three, then out of the bottom six and then to mid-table which we’ve achieved. On Saturday we have the huge incentive of trying to win our first Saturday home game since we arrived, to try and win three on the spin in the league and get into the top eight. Our job was to keep Matlock in this league. There’s been an incredible turnaround in our fortunes made all the more remarkable as we’ve had eleven players out, but for those that have been playing they’re in possession of the shirt and it’s theirs to lose. They have been brilliant. We want to keep improving, bit by bit. ”

“Dwayne Wiley, Marcus Marshall, Michael Williams and Jamie Jackson are all in contention for Saturday. We took Adam Yates and Taron Hare off as a precaution at half time on Tuesday Myself, Terry and Chris have some tough decisions but that’s a good thing and what we want. There’s going to be some very disappointed players, those that have done well and continue to do well will stay in, those who haven’t done quite as well will be fighting to get into the squad.”

Eighteen years old academy product Ashton Hall signed a contract with the Gladiators last week to further please Frecklington.

“It’s well deserved. He’s done well for us but still has a lot to learn but that’ll come with experience. We feel he’s got a lot of potential and the work done in the academy and reserves has been brilliant in providing a pathway for our own youngsters instead of getting them from pro clubs and it’s something we need to keep going.”

Frecklington also took time to thank the supporters who cheered the team on to their two victories this week.

“Our support at Nantwich on a cold wet day was fantastic, they came in numbers again and it was also a very good crowd on Tuesday for a County Cup tie on a Champions League night. We want togetherness and the players really appreciate it. It feels like that togetherness is there and if we meet bumps along the road which we inevitably will at some point, then it’s vital we all stay together as one.”

There will be a minute’s silence before kick off on Saturday to commemorate Rememberance Day and also as a mark of respect to Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and others who perished in the helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium a fortnight ago. Armed forces personnel or veterans can gain free admission to the match on production of their Armed Forces card at the turnstiles.

Ian Richardson

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