the npl

Weekly News | 13.3.24

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Weekly News | 13.3.24

Matlock Town boss Martin Carruthers is back on familiar territory on Saturday as the Gladiators make the relatively short trip to Basford United.

Carruthers spent seven years at Basford as both player and manager and he says he is keen to make it a happy return to Greenwich Avenue as the Gladiators’ manager.

“It’ll be great to go back there, I want us to get the double over them(Matlock won the earlier fixture 2-0 at the Proctor Cars Stadium)but I know they’re decent on their 4G pitch so it’s clear that we need to be much better than we have recently away from home. It’s going to be a really tough fixture. They’re battling for their lives and will see this game as one they’ll be capable of winning.”

Matlock have only two more away trips after Saturday, at play off hopefuls Hyde United and at champions elect Radcliffe, so on paper at least, this is the game they would realistically have most chance of winning. Basford currently lie in 18th spot and are out of the bottom four on goal difference only from Bradford(Park Avenue).

One Gladiator who will not be making a happy return to his old club is goalkeeper Saul Deeney who serves his one match suspension after his red card at Whitby ten days ago. Had the midweek home match with Gainsborough Trinity been on, Deeney would have been able to face one of his old clubs.

“It was really disappointing that the game got called off for after beating Lancaster last weekend, it was the chance to build on that win and gain some momentum. Saul would have missed that game and then able to face Basford and I know he’s really fed up that he can’t play” Carruthers added. Myles Wright is expected to deputise.

Looking back on the Lancaster win, Carruthers said he was relieved to pick up the three points having gone five games without a victory, accruing only a solitary point from a home scoreless draw against Worksop Town.

“I as very relieved, the win was much needed” Carruthers admitted.

“After some poor results it was a fantastic response from the players especially as we had to bring in Nathan Whitehead and Michael Williams who had been on the injury list. It was a big risk to do that, we slotted Nathan in at centre back as Ioan Evans hadn’t been playing well, I spoke to him (Evans) about it. We shook things up as we had injuries with no John Johnston, Jack Goodman and Harry Wood. I made really big calls, I put Yatesy in as skipper and you live and die on these kinds of decisions. I needed to freshen things up, I’m not going to tolerate lacklustre performances and it was great to see the lads make such a fantastic response. I got it in abundance from everyone.”

It was the classic game of two halves with Matlock two goals to the good at the interval thanks to goals from Curtis Durose and Adam Yates before play off chasing Lancaster responded with a goal midwau through the second half from Nik Evangelinos to halve their deficit. But Matlock clung on with determination to give their fans the chance to celebrate a victory.

Despite the Dolly Blues’ fightback, Carruthers felt his side deserved to win and he praised wide men Durose and Tavonga Kuleya who enjoyed excellent home debuts.

“We deserved it, both goalkeepers made great saves, it could have ended up something like 5-3. Both Curtis and Tav who had two assists had great games, Curtis got on the scoresheet and could have had a couple more. They both were excellent for us. Lancaster threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half and showed what a good side they are but we should have had at least four points from the two matches against them, we were more dominant in the game up there where we got beat in the last minute. The players all put in a good shift as late on Lancaster showed what a good side they are and they’d scored a lot of late goals including the one against us. So all in all it was a very good day for us in front of a good crowd and again the fans created a great atmosphere.”

Defender George Wilkinson was forced off with a calf injury at half time and would have missed the Gainsborough game but Carruthers says all being well, he will be available for a return at Basford. The other injury news is less optimistic. Johnston could be out for another fortnight with a groin complaint and Goodman has a broken metatarsal and has returned to parent club Doncaster Rovers.

However Harry Wood is fit again and fellow midfielder Connor Dimaio is back in the Gladiators squad having played only thirty five minutes for Matlock since his acl injury sustained a little over twelve months ago at home to Ashton United.

“Connor’s back with us now, he’s played a few games at Rainworth and has trained and worked really hard. He’s lost some weight and we’re looking forward to him being in our team, his passing and quality on the ball is something we’ve missed and he will improve us.”

Fellow midfielder Andrew Wright is staying at Long Eaton United for the rest of the season.

Carruthers has urged fans and local football enthusiasts to come down in numbers for Adam Yates’ testimonial game on Sunday (1 pm). A Matlock Town All Stars side will face a Matlock Town Legends team with a host of former Gladiators on show.

“The day should be a fantastic tribute for him, it’s rare in football now for players to be at a club for fifteen years and play going up for 600 games for one club. He’s been a fantastic servant and we hope he has a great day with a lot of old faces present. It would be great to see our fans and football supporters in general to come out and show support to a player who thoroughly deserves all the accolades he’s undoubtedly going to receive.”

The Lancaster game last weekend was fifteen years and one day after Yates made his Matlock debut as a teenager from the bench in a 2-1 home win against FC United of Manchester on Sunday 8 March 2009. When the Lancaster game reached the fifteen minute mark the 738 fans clapped in unison to mark Yates’ anniversary.