the npl

Weekly News | 23.8.23

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Weekly News | 23.8.23

Martin Carruthers admits he was relieved to see his Matlock Town side pick up their first league win of the season against Atherton Colleries on Tuesday night, saying he didn’t think the Gladiators had it all their own way despite the 3-0 scoreline.

An opener from Olly Clark was followed by a brace from star striker Jon Margetts who himself will be relieved to have finally found the net in his fourth competitive game for the Gladiators this season.

Before facing Atherton, Town had picked up just two points from nine, having drawn at home to Bamber Bridge on the opening day and at Morpeth last Saturday, their other game ending in a 3-0 loss at Macclesfield.

So everyone understood the importance of getting the right result in front of their own fans on Tuesday, and the fans certainly did their best with 691 in the ground, an excellent turnout for a midweek match in the holiday season.

“I’m very relieved, the win was much needed” said Carruthers.

“To get the first win at home, a 3-0 scoreline and a clean sheet is fantastic, particularly after what happened up at Morpeth. I’m delighted we’re up and running ahead of what will be a very important bank holiday weekend.”

Atherton arrived at the Proctor Cars Stadium with a win, a draw and a defeat from their opening three outings and they received praise from the Matlock manager.

“They looked to be a very good side to me, much better than Bamber Bridge in their possession and rotation. Saul Deeney made a really good save in the first half and I think we went ahead against the run of the play. The lack of a cutting edge let Atherton down.”

Carruthers was happy for Margetts who netted twice after having a lean time of it in the opening three matches.

“I can empathise with Jon, being a striker myself I understand how he must have been feeling. Okay the first one was a miskick and the second one a penalty. When you’re at a new club the hardest goals are the first ones, now he’s off the mark we hope the goals start to flow for him.”

Having fired blanks against Bamber Bridge and Macclesfield, Matlock have scored three times in each of the last two matches although there was more than a tinge of regret with the draw at Morpeth. Matlock were 2-1 ahead through goals by John Johnston and Andrew Wright when Jamie Sharman was shown a harsh second yellow card to reduce the Gladiators to ten men with a little over an hour played. Amazingly a goal of the season contender from Nat Crofts who ran from deep inside his own half to thump a delightful twenty five yarder into the roof of the net almost immediately put Matlock 3-1 up. Substitute Karl Demidh had two chances to make it 4-1 and kill Morpeth off but the hosts reduced the lead in the 88th minute before levelling eight minutes into stoppage time to rescue a point.

“That was really disappointing and it put added pressure on the Atherton game “ Carruthers added with Matlock going into the game in 17th spot. By 10 pm on Tuesday Matlock were in midtable .

“We’ve been better in the last two games going forward although on Tuesday we started well initially before allowing Atherton to come at us. We can’t sit back, especially against a decent team, we’ve got to be on the front foot and be aggressive so we can provide the chances for our forwards.”

So that is likely to be the message ahead of the Bank Holiday matches. Matlock won at both Marine and Stafford last season and repeat results would be just what the doctor ordered.

“We’ll go to Marine and Stafford with a game plan and there’s no reason why we can’t bring home three points in both games. It’ll be undoubtedly a tough weekend though.”

A surprise inclusion in the last two matches has been the experienced Kemy Agustien ho despite donning the number nine shirt, has been Matlock’s midfield lynchpin. The former Swansea and Brighton midfielder picked up an injury in the home friendly with Derby County and he has only recently returned to something like full fitness.

“Kemy's done a great job, it was a real shame that he wasn’t fit and available in the pre season but he’s worked really hard and has played really well in the last two matches” Carruthers added.

The Matlock boss will check on John Johnston and Olly Clark who were forced off in midweek with calf and groin problems respectively. Reece Styche’s shoulder injury has meant he only made a fleeting substitute appearance at Morpeth and did not feature at all in midweek. Both Archie White and Alex Duhameau are probably two to three weeks away from a return while Jamie Sharman will sit out the Marine game through suspension although he did not make the squad at all versus Atherton.

The Gladiators will be on their travels in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday week when they visit fellow NPL Premier Division side Gainsborough Trinity. This means that they will not be on home soil again until Saturday 9 September when they take on Marske United unless the Gainsborough tie goes to a replay in the preceding midweek. The tie also means that the scheduled Gainsborough Trinity v Matlock Town league clash on Saturday 16 September will be postponed as that is the date set aside for the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round.

Ian Richardson