the npl

Weekly News | 18.10.22

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Weekly News | 18.10.22

Matlock Town maintained the second placed position in the NPL table without playing on Tuesday having had a helping hand from their bottom of the table neighbours Belper Town.

Visiting Radcliffe looked to have secured second spot behind leaders FC United of Manchester, beaten 2-1 at Guiseley,until Nailers striker Jacob Gratton struck a 90th minute equaliser. That wasn’t the only last gasp leveller that benefitted Matlock on Tuesday, former Gladiators defender Harry Coates scoring for Ashton United against Stafford Rangers. Had Rangers held on they would have sneaked ahead of Matlock.

Despite fortune smiling on them in midweek, Matlock will be acutely aware that they need to put together a series of wins in what is a painfully tight NPL Premier Division, Just eight points separate FC United from 16th places Atherton and with Matlock still having played more games than most, the need to put a sequence of straight wins together is even more pressing, a fact not lost on manager Craig Elliott.

The Gladiators recovered from their shock home defeat to Liversedge last midweek with a 2-1 win at Warrington Rylands on Saturday.

Again they made life difficult for themselves by conceding a penalty to fall behind, but an equaliser from on loan Derby County striker Bartosz Cybulski before the interval and a first goal in Matlock colours for John Johnston six minutes from time gave Matlock three priceless points.

Matlock are in Warrington for the second successive weekend, this time at Cantilever Park against Warrington Town who seem to have found some form themselves after a rocky period. The Yellows were 4-0 winners at Liversedge on Saturday and won 1-0 at Lancaster City on Tuesday.

“Warrington winning at Liversedge in the way they did shows what this league is all about” said Elliott.

“I tend not to get too preoccupied with what other teams do but as you can see two or three straight wins can catapult you right up the table, equally two or three successive defeats can force you well down into the bottom half. It just goes to show that you’ve got to be on it in each and every game else you’ll get found out.”

Elliott reckons Matlock have played better and lost in some games than they did at Rylands.

“It was a different type of win, we’ve played a lot better and lost but what pleased me was the toughness and resilience we showed. On Saturday we were clinical at the right times and we scored two good goals.”

The Town boss again lamented the concession of a penalty but praised the contribution of goalkeeper Jim Pollard who pulled off a number of crucial saves.

“It’s unbelievable how we keep conceding penalties, it’s not as if there’s been any doubt about them, since I’ve been here I think that’s four penalties we’ve given away, all stonewall so I can’t complain for we’ve made some really rash decisions.. As for Jim, he’s played really well, not only on Saturday but since I arrived, he was my man of the match.”

Last Friday saw Matlock bring in Cybulski who played the opening 68 minutes before being withdrawn for Kallan Murphy.

“He’s going to get better, he’d had a tough week of training and he looked a little heavy legged in the second half. It’s always nice for a striker to score on his debut and he got the type of goal we’ve been crying out for.”

Matlock are back at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night when Marske United are in town. The Seasiders won promotion from the NPL Eastern Division last season and were beaten 3-2 by Matlock in a thrilling FA Trophy tie in Derbyshire last November.. Matlock will need to be wary of Adam Boyes, a prolific striker who has scored goals at every club he has played for.

“I’m fully aware of what a top striker Boyes is, he’s been with the likes of Bradford Park Avenue and Spennymoor in the National League North and he’s one of a number of good players in the Marske side. Teams from the North East are usually difficult to beat, we’re in a difficult run of games and we need to be on it.”

The Gladiators have one or two injury worries with both Ryan Qualter and Mark Lees playing through the pain barrier. Ioan Evans is described as “touch and go” for Saturday.

“Ioan’s a big player for us so it’ll be good to have him back, the midweek without a game is also a blessing for us” added Elliott.

Matlock took a healthy contingent of fans to Rylands and Elliott is hoping for a similar turnout this weekend.

“I’m really pleased with our support, they made some noise on Saturday , believe me it helps the lads a lot, it gives them a massive lift.”

With South Shields making it through to the FA Cup First Round to face Forest Green Rovers at home on Saturday 5 November, Matlock will be without a game with Shields having been due at the Proctor Cars Stadium on that day. However there is entertainment at the Proctor Cars Stadium as Matlock will be hosting a beer, cider and gin festival which begins on Friday night, 4 November at 6 pm. That will continue on into Saturday starting at noon and throughout the day and evening. There will be a band on the Friday night and a disco on the Saturday with hot food also available. Entry to the festival is £5.

Ian Richardson