“The result was all important” said Matlock Town joint boss Craig Hopkins after watching his side’s mixed performance against Grantham Town on Tuesday night when they returned to winning ways.

After being unfortunate to lose by the only goal of the contest at top of the table Whitby Town at the weekend, Michael Williams and Ted Cribley scored the goals either side of a Lee Shaw leveller for the Gingerbreads who host Matlock in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy this coming Saturday.

Matlock therefore regained seventh place, handily placed for an assault on the top five after the two matches which strangely enough, saw the Gladiators play better in defeat than in victory.

“I thought we played a lot better on Saturday than against Grantham” said Hopkins. “At Whitby we were really unlucky. It was an even first half but after half time we were by far the better side so to come away with nothing was really disappointing. We had a lot of chances, we hit the post twice and there were a number of near misses, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football, but overall we were pleased with hos the lads played.”

Hopkins labelled the performance against Grantham as “gritty”.

“We didn’t play at all well in the opening thirty minutes” added Hopkins who was heard constantly shouting from the dug-out that “we must do better”.

“We were better in the second half and after creating only one chance in the first half, we then made a lot more chances but alsoour final ball or the finish was missing. We keep on missing chances and when you’re only one in front, those missed chances can come back to bite you. They equalised from our mistake but the lads showed a lot of character to battle back and get the win. It was so important that we won after the defeat at Whitby, so the three points were more important than the performance. As I’ve said before we’re nowhere near the finished article but what we do have is an honest set of lads and if you’ve got players in the mould of Joe Doyle-Charles who was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch against Grantham, then you stand a good chance.He was brilliant, outstanding.”

Hopkins is expecting another tough game in the FA Trophy.

“Grantham have a more than decent home record and Stevo (manager Adam Stevens) has done a fantastic job there. There’s a couple of things we can learn from the last two matches to take into Saturday. We were sloppy during the first thirty minutes on Tuesday before the goal kicked us into life but we can also look at following Whitby’s example. They’re top because they’ve been at it throughout every game, so we need to look at getting ninety minute performances on a more regular basis.”

Matlock added to their defensive options last Friday when Kevin Grocott, formerly with Burton Albion, joined them from Derbyshire rivals Mickleover Sports. Grocott made two first team appearances for the Brewers before being released, then joining Vauxhall Motirs on a permanent basis after an initial loan spell with the then Conference North outfit. But after only two months Grocott was back in his home town of Derby with Sports for whom he has played twelve times this season.

“Kev will be agood signing for he can play anywhere across the back four or in central midfield” Hopkins explained. “We tried to bring him to Matlock in the summer and then recently we got wind that he was not altogether happy at Mickleover. He’s a great lad, he’s got the mentality we look for in a player, he has a fantastic work ethic and is as honest as the day’s long.”

Meanwhile Laurie Wilson has signed for Frickley Athletic.

Matlock will head to First Division South Bedworth United in the First Round of the Integro League Cup on Tuesday night, proviuded their FA Trophy clash is decided at the first time of asking. Otherwise Grantham will come to the DCJ Group Arena for a replay.

Ian Richardson.

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