the npl

Weekly News | 15.2.23

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Weekly News | 15.2.23

“We’ll lick our wounds and go again Saturday”.

That was the reaction of Matlock boss Martin Carruthers after a terribly disappointing return of only one point from two home games against play-off rivals Warrington Town and Guiseley this week.

Carruthers had hailed the 0-0 draw against Warrington on Saturday as “a very good point against a top side” but he was not as complimentary as Guiseley left the Proctor Cars Stadium with maximum points from a 1-0 win on Valentine’s Night. A 2nd minute strike from Jameel Ible following a rare error from goalkeeper Saul Deeney ensuring the three points went to former Matlock boss Paul Phillips and his Guiseley side.

“Tuesday night was hugely disappointing” said Carruthers.

“With Guiseley arriving late, we had to start well, we spoke about it before we went out but then we concede a goal after just over a minute after we had kicked off! We never got going.”

Carruthers was critical of the Guiseley approach but conceded that it had been effective.

“We got sucked into a battle, a fight, against a side who wanted to spoil the game. They tried to get players sent off, they intimidated the referee with players surrounding him, they wasted time and are terrible to play against. I don’t like it but Guiseley came and did a job against us, they’re very good at what they do so credit to them. Their will to win was greater than ours on the night”.

The goal was the only shot on target from either side.

“The fact that we didn’t have a shot on target is a major concern” Carruthers admitted.

“In other games we’ve missed chances but last night there was no momentum and I felt so sorry for the fans who turned out on a cold night. We fell into their trap and people needed to take responsibility. We switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 at half time to try and get people in down the flanks. Unfortunately Al (Byrne) and JJ (John Johnston) didn’t have the best of nights and the only time we really threatened was when Zander (Alex Duhameau) got in down the left in the second half. We needed our big game players to step up and they didn’t on the night.”

On reflection Carruthers says he would have taken a point from a game which ought to have ended scoreless.

“Worst case scenario against Guiseley was to take a point, we’d still have been above them. It’s frustrating we’ve lost the game through a mistake from Saul

(Deeney) who in the games to date has been outstanding. He’s won us a lot of points. He says he was pushed in the back for the goal so we’ll take a look at the video although nothing can be done about it now, The fact is we had eighty nine more minutes, it should have been a lot more with what went on, to get back into it and we wouldn’t have scored if we’d played all night! We needed to create more chances, the service to the strikers was poor and we need to take a hard look at ourselves.”

So the Gladiators play-off hopes have suffered a big dent and one point out of six is not the best preparation ahead of a long trip to clear leaders and title favourites South Shields on Saturday.

“We really needed three points against Guiseley and now we’ve got two away games at South Shields and Stalybridge on Tuesday where I think we need four points minimum before another tough game at home to Hyde. The pressure’s on whether the players like it or not.”

Carruthers has brought in three new players during the last week. Midfielders Dan Bradley from Ilkeston Town and Connor Dimaio from Curzon Ashton made their debuts against Warrington while six foot plus striker Harry Wakefield made his bow in midweek after hitting fourteen goals for Anstey Nomads so far this season.

“Connor and Dan did really well on Saturday, Connor hadn’t played that much recently and he looked a little jaded on Tuesday so we had to take him off but both are really good additions. Harry didn’t impose himself as physically as I would have liked but he was up against a tough defence and the service to him was poor.”

Striker Karl Demidh attended his GP surgery with tonsilitis on Tuesday afternoon forcing him out of the Guiseley clash while fellow forward Jack Deakin looks to be moving on.

“We’ll get an update on Karl this week but hopefully he’ll be okay for Saturday. Jack’s been ill and had a few knocks so he may drop down a level as he wants to play every week” said Carruthers who added that losing full back Robbie McNicholas to a shoulder injury against Warrington is a major blow. A grade 2 sprain is likely to see him on the sidelines for three to four weeks.

“Robbie’s been brilliant and was a big miss against Guiseley. We’ll lick our wounds and go again on Saturday.”

Ian Richardson