the npl

Weekly News | 10.10.23

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Weekly News | 10.10.23

Martin Carruthers admitted victory was all important in last weekend’s Isuzu FA Trophy home clash with Bedford Town after a challenging few days in the build up to the tie.

Having watched a defensive horror show in a 5-3 defeat at Gainsborough Trinity four days earlier, Carruthers then experienced disappointment in the transfer market as he looked to strengthen his squad. Literally a couple of hours after the Gladiators had confirmed his return, midfielder Ethan Cartwright did a u turn after initially wanting to rejoin the club after moving to Basford United in the summer. The Nottingham club released him the week before and he played and scored for North West Counties League Irlam, but then shocked Carruthers and Matlock officials by deciding to remain there.

So there was probably a little trepidation in the Gladiators camp as they prepared to face Southern League Central leaders Bedford Town who had won all of their six league games .

In a scrappy game Jonathan Margetts saw a penalty saved at the end of the opening half but secured victory with a trademark finish three minutes into stoppage time when penalties looked to be a certainty.

“We just needed a win didn’t we after that shocking defensive display at Gainsborough. It wasn’t a great game on Saturday but after getting knocked out of the FA Cup we knew the FA Trophy gave us a good chance of a cup run. It wasn’t pretty on the eye but to keep a clean sheet and then nick it at the end was great and I was delighted with the resilience the lads showed. The result was everything in a cup game, you have to find a way to win, it’s not really about the performance.”

Margetts netted his 16th goal of a personally very productive campaign.

“I was dreading penalties but Margo stepped up to get us the result we needed and to set us up nicely for this weekend’s home game with Workington” added Carruthers whose worries were increased when illness began to rip through his squad. Robbie McNicholas rang in sick on the morning of the game and several others including skipper John Johnston, Karl Demidh and Margetts played despite being under the weather.

“Credit to the lads for fighting their way through it, the hot day can’t have helped them either. Jonny also saw his penalty saved, to be fair all of his previous penalties have been brilliant, this one was saved, everyone will miss one at some time or other but there’s no issue about who will take them in future.”

Saturday’s win means that the Gladiators will travel to NPL Eastern Division North Ferriby in the next round on October 28 meaning that their scheduled league visit to Guiseley will need a new date. Ferriby are managed by Chris Bolder who very briefly held the assistant manager’s post at the Proctor Cars Stadium under Steve Kittrick before departing to take the manager’s position at the Humberside club. Like Matlock, Ferriby under their previous guise of North Ferriby United have won the FA Trophy, led by former Gladiator Liam King they beat Wrexham on penalties in 2015.

“We wanted a home draw but we have to take what we’re given. They had a great win against Atherton at home on Saturday (4-0) so it’s not going to be easy but we feel it’s a good opportunity for us to progress into the next round” said Carruthers.

Carruthers was relieved to have a clear week ahead of the Workington clash, given the illness in the squad. The visitors lie in sixth spot after promotion from the Western Division as play off winners. The Reds had won four successive league matches until a 1-0 defeat at Warrington Rylands in midweek.

“We’ll have to see who’s fit enough to train this week but the break’s good given we have one or two knocks and the illness. Hopefully we can have two good sessions ahead of what will be another tough competitive game.”

One of those injured is striker Karl Demidh who limped off at the death against Bedford. Carruthers and Matlock will know more of the extent of the injury when sports therapist Andy Henson examines him.

“His foot’s badly bruised so we’re hoping nothing’s broken and there’s not too much damage, fingers crossed.”

The Town boss is still looking to add to his squad and with Reece Styche having been released to join AFC Telford, his striking options could be suddenly halved with Harry Wakefield being the only other out and out forward, together with Margetts in the squad.

Depending on Demidh’s diagnosis, Carruthers may have to bring in a striker but he is also hoping to add to his midfield before Workington visit. Alex Duhameau was on the bench against Bedford while hopes are high that young winger Archie White could be in contention against the Reds.

Matlock then have two more away matches after Saturday, at Ashton United on Tuesday night and at Whitby Town on Saturday week.

Ian Richardson