the npl

Weekly News | 25.8.21

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Weekly News | 25.8.21

Matlock boss Paul Phillips labelled his side’s 1-0 victory at Nantwich on Tuesday as the perfect away performance.

Reece Kendall headed in a centre from Alex Byrne for the second successive game as Phillips’ men secured a third successive victory.

“It was the perfect away performance against a quality side, Cookie’s (Dave Cooke) got a very good team here .I thought the win was totally deserved, we worked hard and they played the game largely in front of us. We could have got one or two more if we’d been more clinical but we have an excellent win. To say we’d got three of our mainstays out. Ross (Hannah). Liam (Hughes) and Chippy (Callum Chippendale), to put in a performance like that away from home on a Tuesday night speaks volumes for the character of the players we’ve got in the dressing room It’s very difficult to pick a man of the match, they were all top draw.”

It was Matlock’s first clean sheet of the season although Phillips believes his side were worth the clean sheets in the 2-1 wins over Basford United and then Hyde United on Saturday. Both opponents netted scruffy goals in the dying embers having been two goals behind.

“We’d made the initial block in both games and the ball ran kindly for Basford and Hyde. We just needed a touch more luck in those moments, but we’ve got the clean sheet tonight and these things tend to happen when you start winning games.”

On the Hyde win, Phillips reckons Matlock were better than the slender difference in the scoreline suggests..

“It was a dour game, Hyde employed spoiling tactics and we were guilty of playing at their tempo in the first half, But it was much better from us in the second half and a 2-1 defeat flattered them. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the game then it’s play at our own tempo.”

The Gladiators handed a debut at Nantwich to 18 years old Jerome Greaves, a towering striker signed on loan from Rotherham United. Greaves has finally arrived at the Proctor Cars Stadium, his signing being delayed when he was taken ill., Ross Hannah began a three game ban after his red card versus Basford while Liam Hughes was missing through personal reasons. Callum Chippendale has missed the last two games through illness.

“Jerome hadn’t played through being ill and I thought he did really well. He still needs to acclimatise himself to NPL football but he has all the attributes to do very well for us” Phillips added.

Chippendale and Hughes might be back on Saturday as Matlock travel to Warrington as their tough start to the season continues. August Bank Holiday Monday sees the Gladiators host Gainsborough Trinity at the Proctor Cars Stadium (3pm).

“We’ve had a tough game at Nantwich and we’ve got another at Warrington but we’ll come up against a different force, Warrington will be more direct than Nantwich and they’ll ask us a lot of questions so we’ll have to be up for the test. It’s my job to manage all these games correctly so we can keep the lads fresh. Considering they all have to go to work as well. it’s a demanding schedule for players at this level.”

In addition to bringing in Jerome Greaves, namesake Oli made a first appearance as a substitute on Tuesday, replacing Jerome. Matlock also re-signed defender Ashton Hall, two years after he left the Gladiators for Sheffield United who released him recently.

The draw for the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup was made on Monday, handing the Gladiators a home local derby with NPL Midlands Division Belper Town.

“If you’re asking me if it’s a good draw, I’ll tell you after the game” Phillips joked.

“But seriously, we’ll have them watched, they’re obviously a good side with some good players. It’s a great tie for the football club, it should attract a good crowd, it’s up to us to do our job and get through.”

The game will be played on Saturday 4 September (3pm).

Ian Richardson