the npl

Weekly News | 23.11.22

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Weekly News | 23.11.22

After their unexpected FA Trophy defeat to Marske United last weekend, Matlock Town boss Craig Elliott is hoping that the norm of a positive reaction to a poor display and performance shows itself again this weekend as the Gladiators travel to Bamber Bridge.

“Generally when we’ve had a hiccup the lads have responded positively in the next game and have got a good result so we’ll be hoping that it’s the case again on Saturday” said Elliott.

Matlock looked set for a place in the 3rd Round at the interval as Jorome Slew’s second goal of the campaign had them in front and looking in relative comfort. But inexplicably the Gladiators lost their way in the second half as they learned the harsh reality of not turning in a consistent ninety minutes performance.

Dale Hopson levelled from the spot with seventeen minutes remaining and with a penalty shoot out looming, Marske completed their recovery with a clever back heel from the prolific Adam Boyes with only three minutes to go.

“We one hundred per cent gave the game away” lamented Elliott.

“I thought we were alright in the first half, we had control of the game but we didn’t come out for the second half so we can have no complaints about losing the game.”

Marske could only name a squad of twelve players for the tie due to players leaving and new signings made by new boss Curtis Woodhouse being cup tied.

“To be honest and it’s no disrespect to Marske but they (Marske) weren’t great and in the second half the game never got going. We had no creativity and leadership out there and we resorted to the long ball. We needed to be braver on the ball. Of course had we got the second goal it would have been game over but we didn’t and the longer it remained at 1-0 the more confident Marske became and they sensed they could get something that didn’t look on earlier in the game.”

Matlock were forced into three changes as on loan Derby centre forward Bart Cybulski was missing due to the Rams needing him for an under 23 match while Jordan Barnett only made the substitutes bench after suffering with food poisoning in the run up to the match. In form midfielder Simon Njaria arrived late after being held up in traffic so the replacements were Slew, Hines & Wiles.

“We still had enough in terms of quality to have won the game so we’re not looking for excuses” Elliott insisted.

All three are expected to be in the squad to travel to the Tom Finney Stadium along with Brad Abbott who returned to training this week. They will face a home side who have had one big win and five heavy defeats in their last six outings. The latest defeat was a 5-0 humbling at title favourites South Shields on Tuesday night while the other defeats have been by 7-0 at Hyde United, 3-0 at both Whitby Town and Hyde United and 3-1 at home to Radcliffe. The bright spot has been a 3-0 win at Atherton Colleries.

Despite recent results Brig are only two points behind Matlock albeit having played two extra games and are in tenth spot, four places below Elliott’s men.

“They looked as if they were going to be up there but as we all know in this league, two or three bad results can knock you back. It just goes to show you can’t take your eye off the ball”, those last few words echoing again what happened against Marske last weekend.

“Wins are massive and we need to start stringing together a run of wins. I’ve got my own targets for us as to what we should be looking at for winning the league or making the play-offs. It’s important now we get a settled team.”

Matlock added to their squad ahead of the Marske game by bringing in 6’4” central defender Jaz Goundry on loan from Grimsby Town, the Mansfield born youngster making a brief debut as a late substitute last Saturday.

Meanwhile the Gladiators will lock horns with old foes Buxton in the 3rd Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup, the National League North Bucks visiting the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday 6 December (7.45pm). This means that the scheduled league visit of South Shields has been postponed for a second time.

Fans are being asked to keep a close watch on press, radio the club website and its social media channels regarding the kick off time for Saturday week’s home game with Radcliffe. Town officials have been in contact with their Radcliffe counterparts to try and agree a lunchtime kick off if England qualify for the last sixteen of the World Cup and have to play their game at 3 pm on the Saturday. That would be the case if the Three Lions finish second in Group A. Should they win the group, they will play on Sunday 4 December. An announcement is expected to be made over the weekend.

Ian Richardson