the npl

Weekly News | 10.8.22

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Weekly News | 10.8.22

“If we can be more ruthless in front of goal, I’m hoping we can go one better than last season” said Matlock boss Paul Phillips ahead of Saturday’s home curtain raiser against Whitby Town (3pm).

Matlock, of course, were clear leaders just after Christmas, but the goals dried up in the latter stages and the Gladiators had to be content with a 4th placed finish and a place in the play-offs. Scarborough Athletic ended the promotion dream with a 2-1 win over them in the semi final.

Although Liam Hughes has departed to Worksop, Phillips recruited a like for like replacement in Jake Day. In May Carlton Town forward Aaron Opoku was brought in and recently the Gladiators lost speedy winger or striker Jesurun Uchegbulam to Chesterfield plus Reece Webb-Foster, who never scored for Matlock moving to Clitheroe.

This week however Phillips swooped for striker Jorome Slew, who found fame with a wonder goal in the FA Cup for Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup against Leyton Orient in November 2019. In that season he scored thirty goals and Phillips will obviously hoping that Slew can provide the goals that Matlock lacked in the climax to the 2021/22 campaign.

Kallan Murphy from Chesterfield is also chomping at the bit for a place in the Gladiators’ attack as Phillips strives to resolve the conundrum which probably cost them a place in the National League North this season.

“It’s good to be back and it’ll be good to play competitive football again. The aim is to go one better, we have a great defence. In midfield we’re fine, the problem as we all know has been in attack, hopefully we’ve addressed that. We’ll hopefully get some good luck which every team needs to do well, it’ll be about being ruthless in front of goal.”

Phillips says the Whitby match is part of a hard start for the Gladiators.

“I think we’ve probably got the hardest start of anyone, Whitby have brought some good players in, we go to Radcliffe on Tuesday and they’ve made some great signings and then there’s the long trip to Morpeth next Saturday. But as I’ve said before, you get to play everyone twice. The pre season programme wasn’t the easiest for us with lads away and the injuries, the Sheffield game was a very useful one for us having lost the Macclesfield and Alfreton matches. Unfortunately the pitch at Carlton made it a bit of a non event, the lads also having done a hard run on the Thursday night.”

Whitby have won on their last four visits to the Proctor Cars Stadium.

“We’ve got to make use of the home advantage although last season I think the away record was just as good as the home record. The serious stuff starts now, the pre season matches mean nothing. On the last two opening days, we’ve been poor, we certainly can’t be any worse than we were up at Ashton last season, so it’s important we do our jobs and get off to a good start.”

Nico De Girolamo signed on the dotted line last weekend to begin a second spell with the Gladiators.

He was with Matlock during the 2015/16 and 2016.17 campaigns before joining Buxton where Phillips was in charge, and then moving to Grantham Town.

“Nico’s missed quite a bit of pre-season through his wedding so he’s a few weeks behind the others but we know what he can bring to the group, he’s a good player.”

Ian Richardson