the npl

Weekly News | 11.4.23

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Weekly News | 11.4.23

Matlock Town go into their final two games of the season still in the hunt for a play-off spot, thanks to a little help from their friends.

Their friends in this respect are Warrington Rylands who went to Radcliffe, Matlock’s rivals for a play-off spot on Tuesday night and came home with a resounding 3-0 victory meaning that Radcliffe are now winless in five matches.

The Easter results, which saw Matlock beat Atherton 1-0 last Saturday at the Proctor Cars Stadium before drawing 1-1 at Belper on Monday, leave Matlock in seventh spot and contesting fifth place with Radcliffe, Hyde United and Marine.

Radcliffe currently are fifth, three points ahead of Matlock with Hyde in sixth with a one point advantage over Martin Carruthers; men. Marine are in eighth one point behind the Gladiators.

Carruthers will therefore prepare for their final home game of the season against Bamber Bridge in a positive frame of mind knowing that there is still all to play for. The Preston side secured their play-off slot with a 2-1 home win against Lancaster City on Easter Monday.

Asked if Matlock could still qualify for the play-offs Carruthers replied, “Yes of course we can!”

“Looking at Saturday’s games, Radcliffe are at home to Gainsborough and Marine go to Hyde. Ideally we’ll be hoping for a Gainsborough win and a draw at Hyde, of course we’ll have to beat Bamber Bridge and then aim to win at Marine. There’s everything to play for and we need to now put in a massive effort to get where we want to be.”

Carruthers is wanting Matlock to finish their home season on a high.

”We want to give our magnificent fans something to shout about on Saturday. We’ve drawn a few at home recently but when we’ve had hiccups, other teams have been helping us out as Warrington Rylands did on Tuesday. Now we must ensure we help ourselves. Bamber Bridge have had a great season and have already made the play-offs, hopefully they’ll have half an eye on the play-off games, but they may not so we have to go out there and win the game on Saturday. We’ll be emphasising this in training and ahead of the game, we need to be on top of our game and we’ll be going out to attack and look for goals.”

Matlock made the ideal start in Saturday’s win against Atherton, going in front in only 3 minutes through Alex Duhameau’s first goal for the Gladiators. But then Matlock sat back as the game wore on and Carruthers says it is a trait he doesn’t want to see repeated on Saturday.

“It’s something we’ve seemed to do a lot since Wayne (Hallcro) and me arrived at the club, seeming to sit back once we’ve taken the lead. When we start well and get the early goal we need to go for a second or a third, we can’t rely on scoring just the one goal against Bamber Bridge. We’ll have an attacking formation that we hope will see us go and win the game. I was delighted for Zander (Duhameau) on Saturday, we all know he’s a striker but has played in other positions for us. We played him in an advanced role against Atherton, he got his goal and did really well. He should probably have scored down at Belper.”

Of course, had Matlock got the victory that a lot of people expected at already relegated Belper, their position would be a whole lot rosier. Reece Styche’s third goal in Matlock colours gave the Gladiators a 15th minute lead before Ethan Cartwright was shown a 22nd minute red card for bringing down James Oliver who looked to have a clear run towards goal. There was double jeopardy for Matlock as Curtis Burrows struck the resulting free kick past Saul Deeney to level the scores.

Despite playing three quarters of the game with a man less, Carruthers says it was two points lost.

“Definitely two points lost, we’d won three on the bounce and gone 1-0 up and I think even with ten men we’d got enough about us to have won it. We had three really good second half chances which we didn’t take and had enough of the play to make it count. It was a very frustrating afternoon and we’re hoping it doesn’t prove too costly for us. In an ideal world we’d have been better to let the lad go through and possibly score, hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but the referee had no choice but to show a red card. We went 3-4-2 for the second half and as I said, we had three chances that we really needed to take.”

Matlock may have their regular central defensive partnership back for the weekend. Captain Adam Yates has missed the last two games through family commitments while Ioan Evans has been out with an ankle injury picked up in the first half at Liversedge. Evans will be assessed at training and in the run up to kick off on Saturday to see if he is ready for a return. Archie White is on a family holiday in Italy arranged before he signed but may return early with Matlock still in contention for the play-offs. Cartwright is available against

Bamber Bridge, his one match suspension will cover the final day visit to Marine on Saturday week.

The Gladiators are hoping for another big crowds on Saturday. An impressive 959 watched the Atherton win and there is the added attraction of a beer, cider and gin festival on Saturday during the second half of the game and afterwards which also takes place on Friday evening . Admission to the festival is free on both days with entertainment laid on, The festival on Saturday begins at 4pm during the second half of the match.

For reference the important final games for clubs chasing the final play-off spot are as follows:

MATLOCK TOWN—Bamber Bridge (H) 15 April, Marine (A) 22 April

RADCLIFFE--- Gainsborough Trinity (H) 15 April, Nantwich Town (A) 22 April

HYDE UNITED--- Marine (H) 15 April, Warrington Town (A) 22 April

MARINE---- Hyde United (A) 15 April, Matlock Town (H) 22 April

Ian Richardson