the npl

Weekly News | 21.2.24

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Weekly News | 21.2.24

Matlock Town boss Martin Carruthers says there are plenty of positives to take from last Saturday’s scoreless home draw with promotion chasing Worksop Town that attracted a great 1023 crowd to the Proctor Cars Stadium.

It remains a mystery how the game remained scoreless, there were plenty of chances, the best ones and the majority probably not being taken by Matlock, a view endorsed by Carruthers in midweek.

“I felt really disappointed that we didn’t win the game against a really good side. After Worksop’s good start we established a foothold in the game and missed a really good chance when Scott Boden fired wide, had he not missed the past couple of games he may have put that one away. He Worksop goalkeeper pulled off three tremendous saves in the last ten minutes, we had other chances as well, so we could realistically have scored three or four. It wasn’t meant to be but I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players apart from finishing the chances, the win would have been welcome to get us back on track.”

Matlock went into the game on the back of two 1-0 away defeats in the league at Lancaster City and Warrington Rylands plus a Derbyshire Senior Cup loss at Buxton. The Warrington game excepted, the Matlock gaffer has been pleased with his team’s efforts, particularly defensively.

“We dominated at Lancaster and fell to a late sucker punch, okay we were second best at Rylands but defensively we did well and with the circumstances against us at Buxton we put up a good fight with ten men. On Saturday we showed we could compete against a really good side. We could have done with another Radcliffe (the Gladiators humbled the league leaders 4-0 on November 4) but over the season it’s fine lines that have made the difference. I calculate that from the games we’ve lost or drawn, we should really have had another ten or twelve points which would have had us in or around the play-offs. But the lads must take a lot of heart from that performance and carry that on into the forthcoming games.”

It is perhaps not surprising that the goals have largely dried up for the Gladiators in recent matches with the departure of the prolific Jonny Margetts being key. Carruthers has been frustrated in trying to find a replacement but did strengthen his line up in an offensive way with Curtis Durose coming in on loan from Rotherham for the rest of the season on Tuesday. Had the home game with Gainsborough Trinity not suffered a third postponement of the season on Tuesday, Durose would have made his debut against a side for whom he scored fourteen goals last season.

“Curtis can fit in just behind the strikers, he can score goals and undoubtedly we need to add goals from the midfield area. Other lads haven’t contributed as we would have liked, Harry Wood for example has goals in his locker and he’s got just one so far. But we’re still on the lookout for another striker.”

Carruthers has been frustrated as he has tried to find the man to fill the big boots of Margetts.

“We tried to base the team around Margs so to lose him was a huge blow. As I’ve discovered natural goalscorers are few and far between, I thought I had two lads sorted only for the deals to fall at the very last hurdle, it’s not through lack of effort on mine and the club’s part but we’ll keep on going to see if the right player becomes available.”

Matlock face their longest trip of the campaign on Saturday when they make the 400 miles round trip to Workington. The Reds are probably better than their league position of 14th suggests. They are a place behind the Gladiators having the same number of points (35) BUT Town have three games in hand of their West Cumbrian hosts.

“In the game at home we were brilliant for most of the game but chucked the game away (Matlock were 2-0 up seventy odd minutes into the game but could only draw 2-2). Workington are a highly organised outfit but I spoke to a mate up at Bradford( Park Avenue ) who went there and got a great win so I hope we can go there and do the same. Despite us not winning in the last four games, I’ve been really please and certainly if we can replicate what we did against Worksop and finish off the chances, there’s no reason why we can’t go and win.”

Midfielders Nathan Whitehead and Michael Williams are expected to be out through injury for the foreseeable future. Whitehead came off with a leg injury at Warrington Rylands and has missed the last two games and he is expected to be missing for another two weeks. Williams came on as a second half substitute last weekend and made a positive impact with strong runs from midfield but pulled up during stoppage time with hamstring trouble which is expected to keep him sidelined for the next month. There is better news however regarding Olly Clark (groin) and Fin Armond (calf), both are expected to be involved at Workington.

The Gladiators are staging a fans forum in the Shorts Lounge starting at 7.30 pm on Tuesday evening giving fans the chance to question club officials and manager Carruthers.