the npl

Weekly News | 1.11.22

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Weekly News | 1.11.22

Matlock Town boss Craig Elliott has mixed feelings as the Gladiators face a blank weekend and two weeks without a fixture following Saturday’s home Isuzu FA Trophy home win against Stafford Rangers.

Due to South Shields’ progression to the FA Cup First Round and a televised home tie with Forest Green Rovers, Matlock are the one side without a game with Shields being the only Pitching In NPL Premier Division team to make it to the First Round.

“I’m 50-50 about it now” admitted Elliott.

“It’s come at a good time as it’ll give chance for some of the injuries to clear up and give the lads a rest and it’s also an opportune time for us to assess and hopefully improve the squad. On the other hand after the defeat at Warrington we’ve responded very well with two good wins and it might have been nice to have the chance to keep that run going Only time will tell but deep down I think I would have liked us to play on Saturday.”

Now Matlock’s next game is a tricky visit to Hyde United who have surprised a few people to lie second in the table, having walloped visiting Bamber Bridge 7-0 last weekend. That victory ensured they would edge ahead of Matlock who dropped a place to third.

The Stafford win, courtesy of AL Byrne’s 47th minute strike, put another £3000 into the club coffers and set up a home tie with Marske United on Saturday 19 November.

It was a closely fought game but Elliott says Matlock were good value for their victory.

“I knew it’d be tough but we played really well in that first half but couldn’t get that goal which would have increased our confidence. The trick is getting that first goal and it was good to get in front straight after half time. Stafford are a good side and you could definitely see why both teams are well placed in the table.”

After struggling for goals earlier in the season, it was good to see three blue shirted players looking to convert a low Jordan Barnett cross for the winner. Kallan Murphy and Bartosz Cybulski might both have found the decisive touch before Byrne netted at the far post from close range.

“The goal came about from the system we play now, we have a lot of width plus two strikers in there who both could have scored. The way we were playing we could have got two or three more goals. It’s something we’ve worked on in training, we’ve got a lot of quality in the team and it’s nice when these moves come off.”

Elliott still feels that Matlock need to increase their fitness levels.

“In the second half we got too deep and I feel we could have controlled things better. This is partly down to fitness and our shape across the board. To be fair though, we’ve got players at different stages of fitness, some playing through injuries, some coming back from injuries and others who are fitter than the others.”

The Matlock boss is pleased with the draw for the next round but says the Gladiators must not take anything for granted despite beating the Seasiders 4-1 in the league just over a week ago.

“I’m certainly not complacent about it, Marske have some very good players and we’ve got to be careful of that. When they came down last week they’d had a long journey at night, arriving late so their preparation wasn’t the best. We managed to get at them early doors. This time it’s a Saturday, they’ll be up for it. It’s a one off cup game so we need to be wary of them. Having said that it’s a good draw, we’re at home and it’s a winnable game.”

Elliott is looking at adding to his squad during this break, having lost striker Shaun Tuton last weekend to neighbours Belper Town.

Tuton had joined the Gladiators in September for a third spell making just the one start and five showings from the bench. His solitary goal in this time was a late consolation at home to Liversedge on October 11, his overall record for Matlock being ten goals in 34 games.

“I know Shaun well, I didn’t want to lose him but he wants to play regularly which I can fully understand. We need to assess where we are with the budget and what we need, we’re a little threadbare at the moment so I’d like to bring some lads in if I can.”

There will be plenty of activity at the Proctor Cars Stadium this weekend despite the first team not being in action.

The Gladiators are staging their Beer, Gin and Cider Festival which begins on Friday teatime at 6 pm. The Festival continues on Saturday from 12 noon until late with a disco on the Saturday evening. Entry to the festival is £5 which includes a special free glass.

It is also a designated Juniors Day on Saturday. Spectators can gain free admission to watch the under 13 game at 11 am between Matlock Town Rangers and Matlock Town Gladiators before at 1 pm the under 16 team face Clay Cross.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout from our fans and the local community plus all of those real ale lovers out there” said a Matlock spokesman.

“Season ticket holders can get in the festival for free and there’s hot food available plus a great selection of beers and we’d like to thank the Derby Brewing Company for their help. Those who want to watch the live TV football can do on the screens we have in the club and we’re catering for the youngsters too as there’ll be craft activities for them plus we’ll be selling cub merchandise. A Saturday night disco should finish things off ideally. Don’t forget the £5 you pay covers both days and a free glass. Everyone’s welcome.”

Ian Richardson.