the npl

Weekly News | 1.5.24

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Weekly News | 1.5.24

Matlock Town joint interim boss Adam Yates believes the club’s 15-placed finish in the NPL Premier Division is down to the team simply having not been good enough.

After two successive play-off campaigns, the Gladiators struggled for much of this season ..

And while Yates cited contributory factors, he didn’t want to make excuses.

He said: “I came in late in 2023 and since then we lost Margo, [Jonathan Margetts] and lots of games were called off.

"But I don’t want to make excuses, as a squad and a team we weren’t good enough, we could have put increased demand on one another, the league table doesn’t lie. Now we have to learn from what’s happened this season and look forward to a better time next year.”

Yates and Mark Atkins took over as joint interim managers following the resignation of Martin Carruthers in late March and had eight games at the helm, winning three and losing five.

Yates believes he and Atkins have done well as everyone awaits news of a new Gladiators chairman and a new permanent manager.

He said: “On the whole I feel we did a decent job, Mark and myself spoke most days and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed those eight games.

"I’ve been both in and around it as I’ve been playing, it’s so different playing to managing and I’ve tried to juggle those different responsibilities and being with Mark allowed me to do it. I think we achieved what we wanted to, we brought the squad together and I think we kicked on after getting the point or points we needed,”

The Gladiators at last gave their fans something to shout about by beating play-off hopefuls Ashton United 5-1 and relegated Bradford (Park Avenue) 5-2 in their final two home games.

Yates said: “We’d got the monkey off our back, we brought in a couple of ‘fresh’ faces, Nat Crofts and Olly Clark came in and the lads bought in to what we wanted from them.

"The pressure was off a little bit, we looked fantastic going forward and Liam Hardy coming in was massive for us., I think he played most of the games and he looked fitter and hungrier as the games went on.”

Yates decided himself that he would not play in the Bradford game.

He added: “Mark and myself haven’t had much time together as an out and out managerial team on the touchline so it was nice to be there alongside him.

"We also wanted to take a look at players, for instance George Wilkinson at centre half who I thought had a really good game.”

So has the past few weeks whetted Yates’ appetite for management?

“Definitely, but it’s been a big responsibility for me, one I don’t think I could have done without Mark there, but when the opportunity came up it was a no brainer, there’s mutual respect and trust between us. I think if we can get the recruitment right we can have a good season next year,” he said.

The Gladiators held their annual Presentation Night following Saturday’s victory which saw John Johnston score a hat-trick on the pitch and then collect a hat-trick of awards a few hours later.

Johnston was named as the supporters player of the year, the manager’s player of the year and also fans forum winner. Young player of the year went to George Wilkinson while club person of the year went to groundsman Richard Lomas for his hours of toil on the Proctor Cars Stadium pitch in a winter of ridiculously wet weather.

Yates says that Matlock’s captain Johnston deserves the recognition for his contribution both on and off the field.

“He’s got that quality and unpredictability that’s hard to play against, but he’s not just brilliant on the pitch but in the changing room . He uses his experience to guide the players through difficult times, he’s a brilliant lad and so professional.”

The end of season play-off semi-finals took place on Tuesday night with Macclesfield beating Worksop Town 3-1 and Marine overcoming Warrington Rylands by the only goal of the game, the two winners meeting at Macclesfield over the bank holiday weekend for a place in National League North. At the bottom, Marske United’s resignation back in January accounted for one of the four relegation places, the other three teams unable to survive the drop being Atherton Colleries, Stafford Rangers and Bradford.

In the Eastern Division, Stockton Town and Dunston will face each other for the right to join Hebburn Town in the top tier. The NPL Premier Division will therefore have a big North East representation next season with Blyth Spartans being relegated from National League North.

There will be a local derby in the West Division final with Prescot Cables hosting Dunston, the Midland Division final will be between Anstey Nomads and Harborough Town with the winners most likely heading for the Southern League Premier Central.

Meanwhile Matlock and Chesterfield have announced that the annual Ernie Moss Challenge Cup fixture will take place at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday 6 July. Tickets are already on sale online and by Tuesday evening there were less than 1000 available. Details on how to purchase tickets can be found on the Matlock Town FC website and facebook page.

The Gladiators have kept season tickets for the 2024/25 campaign at the same price as last term, with season ticket holders having the bonus of watching Derby County under 21’s as part of the package. The Rams under 21’s will have the Proctor Cars Stadium as their home ground for the next three seasons.