the npl

Weekly News | 16.12.20

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Weekly News | 16.12.20

Paul Phillips wants his side to revert to what they do best when their Pitching In NPL Premier Division season resumes at Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday.

These thoughts from the Matlock Town boss followed Tuesday night’s training game at Trafford which the Gladiators lost three nil with the hosts scoring three worldies from distance in a first half which Matlock had otherwise dominated, missing a host of scoring chances.

Matlock had been dumped out of the FA Trophy by a 5-2 margin at Coleshill seven days earlier, so after looking watertight in defence, Matlock have leaked eight goals in two matches.

“For me it’s a matter of us building up our momentum again, we had momentum before the season was suspended, in the last couple of games it wasn’t there. We need to do the right things in the right areas, we’re preparing right for Saturday, we trained last Thursday and Saturday, there was the training game at Trafford and we’ll be training again on Thursday before going to Stalybridge on Saturday. There’s no excuses from me, the lads will have had decent preparation, people need to know their jobs again. The bigger picture for me from the Trafford training game was that lads got some minutes in, some had the opportunity to stake their claim to come into the side, not many took it unfortunately.”

To let in eight goals in two games is certainly a shock to the system as immediately prior to the suspension of the season, Matlock had chalked up successive 1-0 away wins at South Shields and Grantham Town and if the league was now decided on points per game, Matlock, currently in eighth spot would be champions from their thirteen points from six matches played.

Matlock’s recent record at Stalybridge is poor, having lost on their last two visits by 4-1 and 3-1 margins so Phillips, along with Mark Lees, Kayde Coppin and Declan Walker returning to face one of their former clubs, will be looking to make it a happy return to Bower Fold.

Stalybridge, who should include Scott Sephton who signed for Matlock shortly before lockdown last season and never made an appearance in a Matlock shirt, have struggled this term, presently occupying 18th spot with six points from their nine games played to date. Their one win was a good one though, beating a strong Morpeth side.

Recent results though may have proved to be a timely reminder to the Gladiators squad that if you fall below the standards set, any opposition has the capability to take advantage and leave Matlock on the wrong end of the scoreline.

“I know Stalybridge well, you have the uphill/downhill factor with the slope, but they have some good players and as I’ve said we need to do our jobs right, do the things that served us well before the season was stopped. I think we’re ready to push on again on Saturday.”

Club captain Adam Yates felt a slight tweak on his hamstring on Tuesday so he may need a check although Phillips believes he will be okay for the weekend. Other than midfielder Cesaire Lingouba being on the sideleines with a shoulder injury and goalkeeper Jon Stewart out with knee trouble, Phillips should have a full squad available. Ross Hannah could play his first NPL game for the Gladiators since his record breaking 2010/11 season when he smashed in 52 league and cup goals prior to his move to Bradford City. There could also be a debut for midfielder Craig Carney following his move from Warrington Town.

Phillips, like the majority of football fans is pleased to see football back at Steps 3 and 4 in the non league pyramid, albeit with reduced crowds. “It’s great, we’ve needed it, we were in good nick before the season stopped. We didn’t want it to stop but we couldn’t grumble too much after what happened last season.”

As things stand, Matlock’s next home game is on New Years Day when Gainsborough Trinity visit the Proctor Cars Stadium, but with Matlock having played fewer games than almost everyone else, (only Hyde United and Nantwich Town have played the least league games, six like the Gladiators, Matlock officials were looking at slotting in an additional fixture this coming Tuesday, possibly at home. Supporters are advised to check the club’s website and social media channels plus the local press websites for confirmation.

The news that NPL football can return is welcome but it is tempered by a temporary capacity of 300 fans in attendance, with away fans not permitted to travel until further notice.

Matlock will shortly be making an announcement as to admission arrangements for their forthcoming home fixtures.

They say football is a funny old game and Tuesday night’s FA Trophy tie at Coleshill proved it to be true. Just seven days after comfortably seeing off the Gladiators, Coleshill from the Southern League Central Division hosted National League North AFC Telford in the next round and were thrashed 1-10!

Coleshill played all but the first sixteen minutes with ten men following a sending off with the score then being one nil to Telford.