the npl

Weekly News | 20.12.23

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Weekly News | 20.12.23

A worrying injury list greets Matlock boss Martin Carruthers ahead of the busy festive period with a run of games that could define the rest of the Gladiators season.

A big concern will be the hamstring tweak suffered by defender Adam Yates at Bamber Bridge on Saturday, Yates having been instrumental in Matlock’s good run of league results which brought them five victories out of six matches prior to the 2-1 defeat in Lancashire. Yates, along with midfielders Nathan Whitehead and Finlay Armond will be assessed by sports therapist Andy Henson to determine the seriousness of their injuries, Whitehead was named as a substitute but was unused at Bamber Bridge while Armond played the full ninety minutes but appears to be suffering again having recently returned from a three game ban. To add to Carruthers’ problems, Jamie Sharman picked up a red card on Saturday which will see him miss the next two games, at home to Morpeth Town on Saturday and the Boxing Day trip to Ilkeston.

“We’re hoping Yatesy’s injury isn’t too bad, he said he felt it in the warm-up but gave it a go and had to come off, He’s not pulled the hamstring hopefully but if it is a bad one then we’re looking at four to six weeks, a mild one then probably two weeks, He’s obviously a big doubt for Saturday, we’re hoping Andy (Henson) can give us some good news. He along with Nathan and Finlay won’t train ahead of the weekend” said a rueful Carruthers.

The 2-1 loss last weekend was a nasty blow to Matlock’s hopes of a play-off spot, this being amplified with Marine and Whitby grabbing important victories during the last few days. Carruthers believed his side got what they deserved at Bamber Bridge,

“We started really well got a really great goal from JJ (John Johnston) to go in front but then we stopped pressing them which allowed Bamber to get in the game, We conceded a really poor goal for the equaliser, switching off from a free kick but I said to them at half time that if we could replicate the opening fifteen or twenty minutes in the second half, we could still win the game. We gave a way another bad goal but then had chances which we didn’t take. Bamber were the better team, no question and again it was a return to our poor away form which was so disappointing. But if players don’t do the basics right then we’ll get punished in this league and that;s what happened on Saturday.”

Connor Dimaio was a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad and he made his first appearance from the bench for the final thirty five minutes after an absence of nine months following his serious acl injury.

“It was great to see him back on the pitch and to be honest it was a tough start for him on a heavy pitch. We want him back in the side for he’s a tremendous player who can make us tick in that midfield area but we need to be careful with him. We need to manage his games , it was a risk on Saturday but it was a starting point for him. We just need to ensure he doesn’t pick up any strains that could knock him back.”

Despite the injury list Caruthers says there are no immediate plans to add to the squad. Full back Kornell McDonald who made seven first team appearances under Wayne Rooney’s stewardship at Derby County, had a sound debut at Bamber Bridge and defender Ioan Evans will return on Saturday having missed the Bamber game through a one match ban after collecting five yellow cards before the cut off date of 30 November.

The Matlock boss says Saturday’s Morpeth match and indeed the whole of the festive period is crucial for the Gladiators.

“Morpeth’s a huge game, a must win and then we go to Ilkeston, a local derby against my old club and we need to pick something up there. . Really in the next four games with Stafford and Atherton to follow, we need to be picking up ten or twelve points, particularly with results elsewhere so we need to be focused and concentrate on the job in hand.”

There will be a special treat for fans attending the Morpeth match with the special appearance of Reel Productions Mark and Craig singing their “Fairytale of Matlock” song which has been a big hit on Facebook. Fans are encouraged to wear Christmasy outfits with a prize of a £10 voucher to be spent in the Shorts Lounge or teabar for the outfit judged to be the best.

Meanwhile midfielder Andrew Wright has joined Long Eaton United on loan for three months. Wright , who rejoined Matlock in the summer for a third spell at the Proctor Cars Stadium, has struggled to maintain a place in the starting eleven recently, He made his debut for the Southern League Premier Central relegation favourites in their 3-0 loss at Royston Town on Saturday.

Ian Richardson