Gladiators in Play-Off Semi-Final action | NEWS XTRA - 25.4.23
Martin Carruthers says that Matlock Town side may be clear underdogs in their NPL Premier Division play-off semi final at Warrington Town on Tuesday night, but he is determined that they will enjoy the occasion,
Matlock came from nowhere in an unbeaten last six matches which included five victories to secure their spot in the top five on the final day winning 1-0 at Marine through Jamie Sharman’s first league goal of the season in the 56th minute.
The Gladiators needed results elsewhere to work in their favour, and that’s just what happened. Hyde United were comfortably beaten 3-1 at Warrington Town but Radcliffe had Matlock fans sweating when they took the lead at Nantwich Town. But the hosts fought back to win 2-1 and although it didn’t save them from relegation, it did the trick as far as Matlock was concerned as their 150 fans celebrated on the Merseyside coast.
Warrington’s favourites status comes from the knowledge that they finished with nine points more than Matlock in second spot, enjoying the better of the two league matches of the regular season. In October Matlock were convincingly beaten 3-1 at Cantilever Park while the return fixture t the Proctor Cars Stadium in February finished goalless.
“I’m so proud of the lads for the effort they’ve put in to get us into the play-offs, especially with the injuries, suspensions and unavailability issues we’ve had to contend with. It was a great feeling when the final whistle went at Marine on Saturday. Now we’ve got to go again and again give our magnificent fans something to shout about. It’ll be a tough game, they didn’t finish second in the league for nothing. But I want our lads and fans to enjoy it, there’s no pressure on us at all as nobody outside of the club is expecting us to win. The pressure’s on Warrington to produce the goods in front of their own fans. Games don’t come any tougher than Warrington away , they’re a fantastic footballing side, as good as any team I’ve seen this season, We’re the underdogs for sure but we’re in a great run of form. It’ll take a special performance to beat them but this Gladiators team can achieve the impossible.”
Carruthers can add midfielder Ethan Cartwright to his squad after he missed the win at Marine through suspension.
The other semi final sees third placed Bamber Bridge at home to fourth placed Gainsborough Trinity with the final taking place on May Day Bank Holiday Monday at the home of the highest placed semi final winner.