the npl

Weekly News - 10/4/19

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Matlock Town's Premier Division place for next season was finally confirmed when they won their six pointer at Marine on Tuesday night.

It's a case of task completed but job not done for boss Dave Frecklington whose aim when appointed back in September was to steer the bottom of the table Gladiators to safety.

It's mission accomplished with four games to go in a topsy turvy campaign which saw his era at the Proctor Cars Stadium commence with three defeats before a rally of only one league defeat in fifteen league games from October 1 to New Years Day had Matlock sniffing at the play offs.

But discounting a home win over the now defunct North Ferriby United, Matlock have won only two league matches in 2019 but have nevertheless reached their safety target with four games still to go. Workington cannot catch Matlock and Bamber Bridge and Mickleover appear to be most perilously placed. Bamber Bridge trail Matlock by eleven points with four games left, while Mickleover would need maximum points from their last three matches and hoping Matlock don't collect another point to overhaul them. But given the fact Bamber host Mickleover on the season's final day, neither club can therefore find enough points to trouble Matlock.

Frecklington was delighted with the performance and result on Merseyside which gave them their first league double of the season.

"That was a big performance and one that's been coming. The lads stood up to be counted. It was a proper Dave Frecklington team performance, full of guts, aggression but it also had a lot of quality. We won every first and second ball over the pitch, we pressed as a team. I felt it coming after the last ten minutes against Basford and we put in a good performance for seventy minutes against Warrington before the officials allowed that opening goal to stand. We kept to our beliefs, it was good to get Craig Westcarr and Marcus Marshall back firing up front, Nathan Whitehead and Michael Hollingsworth were fantastic in the middle of the park, Michael Williams and Callum Chettle were a danger down the sides and Greg Tempest slotted in at left back superbly. It was a solid, professional away performance especially after coming here late. To put that kind of performance in given the circumstances was magnificent, in fact 1 to 1 were magnificent and we got a fully deserved three points."

Frecklington reckoned Matlock returned to more like their old selves.

"It reminded me of how well we battled up at Whitby and in general during that great run we had. It was a good pitch to play on".

As to why this performance has taken a while to surface, Frecklington highlighted a number of factors.

"Not having a settled team is one, now we've got our big players back like Marcus Marshall and Craig Westcarr in attack. Also the penny needed to drop with certain players, we've all uttered a few home truths, we've simply not been good enough in 2019, players, management, all of us. We've had injuries, I don't want to use the injury list as a n excuse, but it's a fact that we've been very badly hit. Our performances have been inconsistent, we know we're good enough to be higher up the table."

The Matlock boss wants a strong end to the season in picking up as many points as possible to see where his side end up.

"I want to see everything left on the pitch for the rest of the season. We can all sleep well knowing a shift's been put in."

Matlock welcome Witton Albion and Buxton to the Proctor Cars Stadium while they still have to travel to Bamber Bridge and Stafford Rangers,

Witton are in town on Saturday for what promises to be a tightly contested affair against a side that gives very little away. It needed a bizarre Lee Beevers own goal to give Albion the points at Northwich last January.

"Witton are a tough team to play against, they've got a good manager, stability and a way of playing that makes it difficult for opposing teams" said Frecklington.

"But if we can play like we did at Marine then we've every chance of winning."

The Gladiators last home win was back on December 22 when it was also the last occasion when they scored more than twice in a fixture prior to last Tuesday.

"I was really pleased for the fans that went up on Tuesday, they've not had a lot to shout about recently and it's not easy travelling that far on a midweek night. I'd like to thank them and think they'll be pleased with what they've seen from us and of course we want to carry that on in front of our own fans this Saturday" Frecklington added.

Loan striker Jonny Margetts is out for the rest of the season after damaging his hamstring in the Warrington defeat but there are no other new injury problems. The may be some good news for Town fans as winger Craig King is having a can on his knee and if there is a positive diagnosis, Frecklington says he may be back in action before the season ends on April 27. Last week Matlock were further boosted as Chris Salt's knee injury was not as serious as first feared and he too, might see more playing time this season after all.

Meanwhile voting slips are out for fans to nominate their Player Of The Season and will be available at the Gladiators remaining two home games. The winner will receive his award, again sponsored by the Matlock Mercury, at the club's Presentation Evening on Friday May 3.

Ian Richardson