the npl

Weekly News | 2.12.20

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Weekly News | 2.12.20

Paul Phillips says his shopping is complete for the moment after bringing in midfielder Craig Carney from Warrington Town and later securing the return of one of Matlock’s most popular strikers of recent times, Ross Hannah from Cleethorpes Town.

This is despite the departure of Joe Bunney to National League Hartlepool United, Bunney making his Pools debut in their defeat at Solihull Moors on Tuesday night.

“That’s it for now, I shan’t be looking to bring anyone else in. We’re always looking of course but unless someone pops up that blows us out of the water, that’ll be it for now as I think we have enough cover in all positions to see us through” said Phillips.

Bunney, who can operate as both a striker or defender, joined the Gladiators in October, but with the Covid issues affecting the country at present, only played twice for the Gladiators and was on the winning side on both occasions. On his debut at South Shields, Bunney came on as a substitute to provide the cross for Alex Byrne’s winning header. Then at Grantham three days later, Bunney was upended and Declan Walker stroked home the penalty which earned Matlock a further three points.

Bunney, who had been with Rochdale, Northampton Town and Bolton Wanderers in the Football League was keen to get back to the full time game.

”He wanted a return to full time football and we had an arrangement that if a full time club came in for him, he could go with our best wishes” Phillips explained.

“At Hartlepool he’ll be at a full time club getting a full time wage. We’d never stand in the way of anyone wanting to play at a higher level. The deal suited both us and Joe, it was just a pity that because of lockdown he only managed two games for us instead of possibly seven or eight.. We wish him well, it goes to show the type of player we can attract to the clubs and if things don’t work out for him in the future you never know we might be able to have him back.”

There remains uncertainty of when Matlock will return to NPL action given the latest restrictions imposed by the Government with the majority of the league’s clubs located in tier 3 areas..

Clubs are presently considering whether to continue with the pause in playing and review the situation in a fortnight’s time or to play league games behind closed doors, the latter option having being vehemently opposed by non league clubs previously. This time however, clubs at Matlock’s level could be allowed loans to help them, as opposed to what has happened in the National League where the Government has allocated money to cover clubs’ potential losses through spectators not being present and the associated income from refreshment outlets and and social clubs.

Matlock Chairman Bryn Apperley believes that league games should not be played without spectators in attendance,

“At this moment in time I can see no alternative but to carry on with the league on hold, although obviously even if our Committee agree with me, we are only one vote and we will abide by the democratic decision of the league. All everyone at the club want to do is to play and watch football, but we cannot do this behind closed doors without appropriate funding.”

A decision is expected to be announced on Thursday, Matlock’s next scheduled NPL match being at home to Lancaster City on Saturday week.

Meanwhile the Gladiators FA Trophy campaign remains on track and they are preparing the best they can for Tuesday night’s visit to Southern League Division One Central outfit Coleshill Town. The tie at Pack Meadow will take place behind closed doors.

“Playing games behind closed doors without the fans is rubbish, we did it pre-season and at Guiseley in the FA Cup and it’s just not the same” said Phillips.

“But it’s the same for both teams and we’ve got to go there and do a professional job. We’re looking to train on Thursday and on Saturday we’re having a behind closed doors friendly at Wythenshawe Town. We’d have liked to have watched Coleshill but obviously this hasn’t been possible because of the pandemic so we’ll have to go on previous reports we have about them.”

Hannah might make his second competitive Matlock debut on Tuesday as Cleethorpes did not travel to City of Liverpool in an earlier round of the FA Trophy meaning City of Liverpool received a bye, this being a bonus for the Gladiators with Hannah not being cup tied.

On the flip side of the coin Carney is cup tied following a brief substitute appearance for Warrington in their win over Lancaster City in the last round. Matlock will also be without Liam Hughes and Kade Coppin as both complete three game bans following red cards received in the FA Cup defeat at Guiseley.