Matlock Town joint boss Craig Hopkins wants the Gladiators to emulate their electric start against Heanor Town in last Saturday’s FA Cup victory when they return to league action at home to Stourbridge on Saturday.
Matlock raced into a three goal lead inside twenty four minutes against the Midland Football League underdogs to set a solid platform for a 4-2 win and with other good chances going astray, they should have won more emphatically. As it was, Nico de Girolamo against his old club netted in the 5th minute before Marc Newsham and Marcus Dinanga made it three. Kieran Debrouwer reduced the deficit shortly before the interval only for Newsham to restore the three goal advantage seven minutes into the second half. Debrouwer’s second was a consolation for the Lions at the three quarter point.
“We said to the lads we play two leagues up from Heanor so let’s get at them and we did, we played at a good tempo and they couldn’t live with us, we really caught them out in those opening twenty five minutes. Then we took our foot off the gas which I suppose is human nature but the main objective was to get through because as Saturday showed, there were clubs at our level who went out to lower ranked sides. To be honest to say we should have scored six or seven is an understatement.”
Hopkins was naturally delighted but he did have some kind words for one of his former clubs.
“Heanor Town are a good club with good supporters and could probably play higher up the pyramid. It was nice to see some old faces again and I’m sure they’ll do well but our attention now is firmly on Matlock Town and it was nice to win the game, make the next round and earn some money for the club ”
The negative for Matlock was the concession of two goals.
“We were very disappointed to let in two goals, we were sloppy and that’s something we must resolve” Hopkins added as he looked ahead to what is potentially his side’s most difficult league game so far this season at the weekend.
Heanor included former Matlock striker Nathan Benger and full back Keenan Layton who was at Matlock during the pre season build up.
Stourbridge, having narrowly missed out on the play offs last term, made a slow start to this season losing their opening two matches at Warrington and at home to Hednesford before winning their last three in the league and making FA Cup progress last Saturday. They have one of the division’s most prolific marksmen in Luke Benbow who returned to Amblecote in the summer after a year away at Rushall Olympic.
“Stourbridge’s a massive game for us” Hopkins admitted as Matlock aim to improve on their current 17th spot after a mixed start to their league campaign which has earned them a point per game after six outings.
“Stourbridge could very well be the best team we’ll face in this early part of the season. We need to start strongly and impose ourselves on them.”
Certainly Matlock must tighten up as a defensive unit if they are to earn their second league victory of the campaign, and that will also probably be the case in the next stage of the FA Cup when they travel to Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Kidsgrove Athletic on September 17.
Kidsgrove earned their first win with a fine 2-1 derby win at Premier Division Stafford Rangers in the previous round and it could be that they occupy a false position towards the bottom of the league given the attacking options available to them. The Grove have just a solitary point from four league matches but Hopkins says they have some dangerous attacking players..
“We know all about Kidsgrove who have three very good forwards in Anthony Malbon, Luke Keen and Nick Wellecombe, some of whom me and Kirky have tried to sign during the last two or three years.It’ll be close and probably down to who wants it more.”
Captain Laurie Wilson returns to the squad this weekend after completing a three match ban while Matlock hope that goalkeeper Phil Barnes and defender Alex Pursehouse will be fit enough to make their competitive debuts for the Gladiators following injuries sustained during pre season.
Meanwhile striker Ben Partridge has been released to join Sheffield FC while winger Andy Todd has gone to Long Eaton United on loan for a month.
Partridge started the season with an injury and went down the pecking order when Newsham hit form and Dinanga and Arel Amu were brought in. Todd has just two brief substitute appearances for Matlock so far.
“Toddy’s gone to Long Eaton to get some game time and while Ben’s quick it’s just not happened for him here so he goes with our best wishes” Hopkins explained.