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Gladiators confirm first four pre-season games | Weekly News - 19.5.21

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Gladiators confirm first four pre-season games | Weekly News - 19.5.21

Matlock Town have released details of four of their pre season games and in their first they will be helping local side Wirksworth Ivanhoe celebrate their centenary year.

Ivanhoe will take on a Gladiators eleven at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday 6 July (7.45pm) and Matlock Chairman Bryn Apperley says that his club is delighted to be part of Ivanhoe’s history and there will be silverware to play for.

“Wirksworth Ivanhoe are a well established and well respected local football club who have provided the youngsters of Wirksworth with a great opportunity to play competitive football for a hundred years now. We extend our sincere congratulations to everyone associated with the club over the years. As you know we forged a link with Wirksworth Ivanhoe a year ago and we’re absolutely delighted to play a leading part in their centenary celebrations. We’ll be playing for the Wirksworth Centenary Cup and it would be great if this could become an annual fixture.”

The two teams met for the first time last August with the Gladiators winning 9-1 and although there might be a chasm in terms of league status between the two sides, it could give Matlock boss Paul Phillips the opportunity to blood some trialists and also take a look at budding talent in the Ivanhoe ranks.

The clubs have agreed admission charges of £6 for adults, £3 for concessions with under 10’s being admitted free. A special matchday programme is to be produced with memorabilia being available for purchase on the day. Bar and tea bar facilities will also be available.

Then three days later the Gladiators are at home again when National League North and former great NPL rivals Boston United visit on Friday 9th July (7.45pm).

There have been a great many exciting tussles between the Gladiators and the Pilgrims over the years, notably the 1978 NPL Cup Final played at Maine Road, Manchester when Matlock beat the season’s champions 3-0. Boston could include former Matlock utility player Joe Leesley who last season was on loan at Boston from Harrogate Town with reports suggesting that Leesley could return to the Pilgrims for the coming season.

Matlock will return to face Brighouse Town of the NPL East Division on Saturday 24 July (noon kick off) after visiting the West Yorkshire club in a pre season game last August which finished scoreless. There is a Gladiators connection at Brighouse with former Matlock strikers Stacy Reed and Leon Wainman being part of Vill Powell’s managerial team.

The fourth fixture is a change from what was announced a few weeks ago with Matlock’s trip to Sheffield FC being altered from Tuesday 20 July to Saturday 31 July (3 pm). More pre season games are set to be released in the coming weeks.

Matlock manager Paul Phillips is currently away on a short break but before he departed he confirmed the signing of pacy winger Jesuran Uchegbulam while goalkeeper Shaun Rowley, as expected , signed a contract with the Gladiators.

Uchegbulam is well known to assistant manager Dave Wild having played for Wild at both Stockport Town and Mossley. He has had trials at Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic and although Nigerian born, Uchegbulam grew up in Italy playing for AC Milan as a youngster before moving to the UK.

Rowley impressed both management and fans in the curtailed 2020/21 campaign, having joined from Solihull Moors in the final week of pre season following a knee injury to Jon Stewart. Rowley kept six clean sheets in twelve competitive matches.

Ian Richardson