the npl

Weekly News | 2.2.22

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Weekly News | 2.2.22

It was a frustrating day all round for Matlock Town last Saturday when at 11.30 am news filtered through that their eagerly awaited top of the table clash at South Shields had been called off due to horrendous high winds on Tyneside.

The team coach, a double decker, also filled with supporters turned round at Scotch Corner while fans going there under their own steam also had a wasted journey. Some fans, including Chairman Bryn Apperley were in South Shields for the weekend with Apperley present at the ground when the decision was made.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating but with damage having occurred and the potential for more damage, it was definitely the right decision, not only in terms of spectator safety but given the importance of the game which could have turned into a farce given the winds” said the Town Chairman.

Phillips, although not happy at the time, agreed that the postponement was right.

“It’s very frustrating with people having gone all that way and prepared all week for the game, but the Chairman was up there and said it was bad, people’s safety must always come first. South Shields would have sold a lot of tickets so they wouldn’t have wanted the game off so it was disappointing for everyone. Also we wouldn’t have wanted the game decided by a freak goal unless it was for us!!”

The postponement means that Matlock will now have to travel to Mariners Park in midweek and with South Shields being full time, it should give the Tyneside club an advantage with the Town players having work commitments before and after the game.

But Matlock are still at the top of the tree with results elsewhere on the day generally working in their favour.

Buxton won 2-1 at Hyde United to go third behind Shields and Matlock, the gap between the two Derbyshire clubs being seven points with Matlock having a game in hand. Bamber Bridge were beaten 2-0 at home by Stalybridge Celtic while Whitby Town drew 1-1 at home to Warrington Town and Scarborough Athletic could only draw 2-2 away at Witton Albion.

So attention turns to the coming week with the Gladiators having two home games and the opportunity to make a statement in the race for the title.

Lancaster City are in town on Saturday (3pm) before foot of the table Grantham Town visit the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night. (7.45 pm). On Saturday South Shields travel to Buxton in the game of the day before playing a local derby at in form Morpeth Town on Tuesday evening when Buxton host Basford United.

Phillips travelled up to the Giant Axe on Tuesday night to watch the 1-1 draw between Lancaster and Grantham and says Matlock have to concentrate on doing what has made them successful in most of their games so far.

“ Lancaster are safe, Grantham are fighting for their lives. Lancaster are a big physical side who use the long throw to good effect so we have to be ready to cope with that, they have some big lads at set pieces and will definitely give us a game. They have a manager who knows this league and what he’s doing. Grantham look young at the back, Jonathan Wafula will want to prove a point and their two forwards are a handful but if we do the right things then we can win the games. If we have any ambitions of getting out of this league we’ve got to be looking at getting six points.”

Latest signing Jack Hindle travelled with the squad last Saturday and there was a further boost for Matlock as goalkeeper Shaun Rowley returned to training on Tuesday night after being out for three months with a broken finger.

“We did the deal for Jack a while back, he’d had a lot of offers but he remained true to his word that he would come to us as soon as he got over his injury. He’s not played all that much recently so we shouldn’t expect too much too soon but the aim is to get him training with us and give him minutes in the forthcoming fixtures to build up his fitness. He could be a very important player for us.”

With Rowley on the way back and Paul Cooper over his injury, Matlock now have potentially three goalkeepers contesting the number one jersey. Joe Young is the man in possession at present.

“I’m expecting Shaun to be fully up to speed in a couple of weeks and fighting for his place. Joe Young’s done really well so Shaun and Coops need to be ready if the opportunity arises.”

Matlock are hoping for big crowds at the Lancaster and Grantham games.

“The fans have been really good, it was unfortunate what happened last Saturday and obviously we apologise for any inconvenience with the postponement” said Phillips.

“The lads showed their appreciation to those on the coach, now we want to repay everyone with good wins on Saturday and Tuesday. We had a good crowd in against Bamber Bridge, the fans have been brilliant to be fair, vocally very good and we thank them for their support. Long may it last, make no mistake we’ll need this great support as the season moves on.”

Matlock travel to Whitby Town on Saturday week and transport is being laid on to take fans to the seaside, leaving the Proctor Cars Stadium at 8.30 am to allow fans some time in the town ahead of the game. Contact Tom Wright on 07850 065968 or call in at the club shop to book your place.

The Gladiators home meeting with Ashton United, postponed on 8 January, has a new date of Tuesday 8 March.

Ian Richardson