the npl

Weekly News | 18.4.23

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Weekly News | 18.4.23

The leading question to the Matlock Town boss Martin Carruthers was the same as it was last week, can the Gladiators make the play-offs?

Matlock got the result they wanted as they beat Bamber Bridge by the only goal of the game at the Proctor Cars Stadium in their final home league match of the campaign, Alex Byrne scoring from the spot after half an hour after he had been fouled in the penalty box.

Elsewhere Radcliffe and Gainsborough Trinity drew 1-1 while Hyde beat Matlock’s final day opponents Marine 4-0 to knock Marine out of the play-off equation, So Matlock lie in seventh spot, the lowest position they can finish, a point behind Hyde and Radcliffe.

So Matlock know exactly what they have to do. They must win at Marine and hope that Hyde drop points at second in the table Warrington Town and Radcliffe do likewise at Nantwich Town who may be already relegated depending on the outcome of their trip to Marske United on Thursday evening.

Carruthers’ response to the question was virtually identical to the one he gave seven days earlier.

“We can do it, why not? I’m a big believer in fate, hopefully Warrington can take points off Hyde and Radcliffe, who’ve not been in the best of form won’t find it easy at Nantwich and also drop points. We all know there’s no easy games in this league, we’ve got a tough one at Marine but we have to believe we can do it, give it a good go and see where it takes us.”

Carruthers believes there is more pressure on both Radcliffe and Hyde to do the business on the season’s final day.

“The pressure’s on Radcliffe and Hyde. Had we won at Belper we’d have been in the driving seat with 67 points and we’d have faced the possibility of being the team to miss out when we were in pole position going into the game. We go to Marine with nothing to lose, we can play with freedom, we want to be on the front foot early on and if we can get an early goal that would be great. It’s going to be a really interesting final day as apart from the play off race, Bamber Bridge and Warrington Town are battling for second place and the relegation positions may not be resolved. From our viewpoint it’s great to have something to fight for right at the end of the season, it’s great for us all at the club and in particular for the local community.”

The Bamber Bridge win last weekend followed a familiar tale of Matlock going in front, not being able to put the game to bed and then having some nervous moments in preserving a single goal advantage.

“That’s something we’ve got to address for next season” Carruthers admitted.

“We need to go for a second and then a third goal. We’ve had lots of 1-0 clean sheets but we need to have that mentality that when we’re on top and dominating we need to add to a one nil lead. Having to defend as much can’t be great for the fans and it’s certainly no good for my heart!”

Marine bounced back from the loss at Hyde to win the Liverpool Senior Cup in midweek, beating Runcorn Linnets in a penalty shoot out after a scoreless draw, former Gladiator Joe Bunney being their hero by scoring the decisive spot kick, Bunney though, along with team mate Luke Clark will miss out on Saturday through suspension.

The Gladiators beat Marine 3-2 in a thriller at the Proctor Cars Stadium a fortnight ago and Carruthers expects a tough clash on Merseyside.

“Marine are a very good side, the game could have gone either way at our place. They’ll be playing for pride and will want to put on a good show in the last game of the season in front of their own fans, so we can take nothing for granted. They’re a very good footballing side and it’s an artificial surface. That should allow us to show what we’re capable of, I want us to be aggressive and press them high up the pitch.”

Matlock themselves will have a man suspended as Ethan Cartwright will be on the sidelines after his red card at Belper.

“I’m 99 per cent sure what the team will be but I’m keeping that close to my chest. Everyone’s fit, Ioan Evans had his head glued after the match on Saturday, he’s a soldier and he’ll be okay to play.”

A crowd of around 1500 is expected at the Marine Travel Arena and Matlock are expected to take a good contingent of fans to Crosby. Visiting supporters are advised to purchase their tickets in advance online from the link on Marine’s website as no cash or card payments are accepted at the turnstiles and it will assist entry to the stadium.

“I’m hoping we can get as many Matlock fans there as possible and I’m sure they’ll make a noise like they always do. I want them to enjoy their day, get behind us and we’ll do our best to get the result we want.”

Ian Richardson