Weekly News | 23.2.22
A disappointed Matlock boss Paul Phillips claimed his side were their own worst enemies as they lot their top of the table clash at South Shields on Tuesday evening.
The hosts were deserved 3-1 winners, striking twice in the opening 23 minutes before Ioan Evans gave Matlock hope, halving the deficit two minutes later. But a third Shields goal on 61 minutes took the game away from Matlock.
It now means that Shields take over as league leaders with Matlock dropping to third. two points adrift of top spot and a point behind second placed Buxton with a game in hand. A disappointing return of two points from the last twelve on offer appears to have stalled Matlock's challenge.
"We beat ourselves a little bit, we didn't start well enough and naivety has cost us" said Phillips.
"It took us too long to suss out what their three forwards were doing and by then we were two goals down."
Phillips though was heartened by the response when his team finally settled in front of a massive 2639 crowd.
"We scored a decent goal, hit the post and Reece Webb Foster's had a really good chance. When you come to sides like these, you've got to take those chances."
Matlock conceded an uncharacteristic third goal from a set piece when Matlock were hoping the boot would be on the other foot with the Gladiators being strong from set piece situations.
"Reece Kendall's had a decent game but he's switched off and needs to mature to be a very good centre half at this level."
But returning to the theme of Matlock beating themselves, Phillips added
"South Shields are the best footballing team in the league, we let them implement their style on us too easily in the opening stages. In Jordan Hunter they have the best attacking full back or wing back in the league."
Phillips stressed though that there is still much to play for.
"There's twelve games left. a long way to go. It's disappointing we've hit a bit of a lull but it's up to me, my management team and the players to get us out of it."
Matlock face another tough challenge in front of another huge crowd on Saturday with a trip to FC United of Manchester.
"These are the games we want, in this league and in the one above. We've got to earn that right. FC have watched us tonight and we know they'll be prepared and we're going to play a really good side. I think we've missed key players in key areas. Ryan Qualter completes his ban on Saturday and we missed Alex Wiles' energy. Having to play Callum Chippendale at left wing back isn't ideal although he did very well and worked really hard against an extremely tough opponent in Hunter. But we'll keep going, we're going to FC to win the game, we've got to be braver in the box and commit more players in there. A few lads are having a rough time, the onus is on them to work their way out of it. Thanks to the fans for making the long journey up, we now regroup and try to keep in the race at the top. I think the loss of five points against Lancaster and Grantham is more crucial than the South Shields defeat."
Liam King is a doubt for Saturday with a back in jury but hopes are high that Wiles can return following hamstring trouble.