the npl

Weekly News | 28.11.23

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Weekly News | 28.11.23

Martin Carruthers was delighted with the response from his squad as they won for the fifth time in six league games with Saturday’s 3-2 victory at FC United of Manchester four days after a 4-0 defeat at Guiseley.

Nathan Whitehead headed Matlock in front before a Karl Demidh brace extended the Gladiators lead to three goals with a quarter of the contest remaining, the Reds cutting into the deficit with two goals of their own. But Matlock held on to claim a deserved win and are currently top of the NPL Premier Division form table based on the last six matches.

“To be honest I wasn’t disappointed with the performance at Guiseley where we had twelve corners in the first half. We created chances there but sadly gifted Guiseley four goals. I felt if Nathan Whitehead could have scored and we’d scored just after half time we could even have won that game. So the message was to continue playing the good attacking football we’d played at Guiseley against FC United and we felt if we could do that we’d have a good chance of winning the game. We had a good first seventy five minutes and a sloppy last fifteen but I can’t fault the lads’ effort, they were magnificent and fully deserved their win. We were so comfortable at 3-0 even though FC United had more second half possession. We were perhaps a bit wasteful with the ball but I was absolutely delighted to to get the win.”

With Jonny Margetts still recovering from his damaged hamstring, Demidh came into the starting eleven and stepped up to the mark and Carruthers pointed to the options he has up front now in comparison to last season. He conceded that Matlock’s more expansive style this season means they are perhaps more susceptible to conceding, the Gladiators last three league wins being by a 3-2 scoreline.

“We know what Karl can do, when fit he’s well capable of scoring fifteen to twenty goals per season. Anthony Dwyer’s up there as well plus of course there’s Margs (Margetts) when he’s back. Last year we struggled for goals and had to rely on winning a lot of games 1-0. We create more chances now and that means more goals. We have the firepower, we’re a real force going forward and although we’re more open at the back and it’s not good for my heart, I’m happy with it. The new lads like Nathan Whitehead and Michael Williams have come in and done very well.”

Matlock lie in eighth spot going into Saturday’s home clash with mid table Lancaster City, an unpredictable side as shown by their last two results. Last Saturday they had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 home draw with relegation threatened Bradford (Park Avenue) before they inflicted only a second away defeat on Whitby Town with a 2-1 win on Tuesday evening.

“Those two results sum this league up absolutely, if you’re not at 100 per cent then you can get beat” said Carruthers.

“There’s no easy games and Lancaster will be a tough game for us. I want us to stamp our authority on the game early doors, get at them in those first twenty or twenty five minutes with all out high intensity. They’ll come to us feeling confident after the Whitby win and of course not for the first time this season we're up against a side looking for a new manager so the players will have a point to prove and want to impress. If we can get three points on Saturday, it’ll set us up for a difficult game up at Whitby on Tuesday. It’s not easy going there at night but we have to play with the cards we’re dealt and try to get another good result.”

Eleven of Matlock’s nineteen league games to date have been away from home, so given Matlock’s good record at the Proctor Cars Stadium, Carruthers is hoping that his side can kick on in terms of results in the second half of the season.

“A lot of the teams around us have still to come to us so there’s some big games ahead. We want to make these games count. So there’s plenty to play for” Carruthers added.

Ioan Evans will sit out the Lancaster game having collected five yellow cards before November 30 which means a one match ban. Harry Wood had an ankle injury which forced him out at FC United and will be assessed after training on Thursday. Fellow midfielder Finlay Armond has completed his three match suspension after his red card at Bradford but has tweaked a groin at work so is rated as only 50-50 for the weekend..

Carruthers says these problems are part and parcel of the game and he will take them in his stride.

“ It’s a shame because just when we think we’re getting a fully fit squad, something happens. Obviously we could do without these issues but what it does is give opportunities for other players, and we may have one more addition before the weekend depending on how things go”

Matlock’s attractive home meeting with Macclesfield FC which has been postponed on Saturday week due to the Silkmens’ continued involvement in the FA Trophy will now be played on Tuesday 9 January (7.45pm).

Ian Richardson