the npl

Weekly News | 3.11.21

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Weekly News | 3.11.21

Paul Phillips underlined the importance of this Saturday’s home clash with Whitby Town as his Gladiators strive to maintain their fine start to the NPL Premier Division season.

Matlock have a three point lead over second placed South Shields who travel to Atherton Colleries while third placed Buxton, seven points behind Matlock but with three games in hand have an FA Cup 1st Round tie at York City.

A win for Phillips’ side would not only keep them in pole position but it would mean Buxton would be ten points adrift and would probably need to win all four of their games in hand to sneak above Matlock.

Phillips though pointed to last weekend’s FA Trophy results as another reason why a Matlock win over Whitby would be potentially crucial.

“It’s a massive game for both South Shields and Buxton were knocked out of the FA Trophy last Saturday so they will have the chan ce to make up ground when we play in the next round. So it’s down to us to prepare right, do our homework, work on certain things in training and put out a side which can hopefully inspire us to three points on Saturday.”

Matlock had Whitby watched as the Seasiders made FA Trophy progress with a 1-0 victory at Shildon before Phillips himself saw Whitby in action at fourth placed Bamber Bridge on Tuesday, Brig winning 3-0.

That result leaves Brig seven points behind Matlock having played the same number of matches and Whitby in sixth. So the Seasiders will be looking to bounce back at the Proctor Cars Stadium from where they have taken maximum points back to the North Yorkshire coast on their last three visits.

“Whitby have good players with the likes of Jacob Hazel up front, they’re a big side who are well organised so we’ll be in for a tough game. We’ll keep plugging away trying to get the points we need.”

Matlock made it through to the First Round of the FA Trophy with a 2-1 home win against Southern League Premier Central outfit AFC Rushden & Diamonds and they will now travel to Diamonds’ league rivals Rushall Olympic on Saturday week.

It wasn’t the kindest of draws for Matlock but Phillips says his full attention at present is on earning three points against Whitby.

“Playing on astroturf away from home isn’t that great for us and they’re doing quite well in their league. It’ll be tough, nothing’s ever easy at our club though but Whitby is our main focus and we’ll start looking at Rushall next week.”

The 533 crowd was treated to three magnificent goals at the Proctor Cars Satdium with Alex Byrne’s piece of genius in spotting the Diamonds goalkeeper off his line to hoist a first time lob over him from 35 yards giving Matlock a 57th minute lead. Substitute Jesurun Uchebgulam lobbed in the second five minutes later, Rushden getting back into it with a worldie from Ravi Shamsi with seven minutes left.

“We scored two great goals but I was more concerned with the chances we missed” Phillips admitted.

“We scored the two goals from our hardest chances, we missed chances which were a lot easier. We could’ve been three or four up. We were a bit lacklustre in the first half but in games like Saturday’s the quality comes through eventually. There were a lot of clubs slipping on banana skins on Saturday, Rushden were mid table in their league so we were glad to get through but I told the lads they need to start taking more of their chances.”

Phillips made some changes to his line up last weekend, although skipper Liam Hughes was allowed to play as his one match suspension for accumulating five yellow cards must be served in a league fixture. He will therefore sit out the Whitby match.

Paul Cooper replaced Shaun Rowley in goal with Jerome Greaves partnering Hughes in attack as Jamie Cooke, whose loan period has been extended from Halifax for a further month, was not allowed to play by the Shaymen. The third change was Matty Sargent coming into the midfield with Alex Wiles dropping to the bench.

“It was hard for Paul , I was a goalkeeper and it’s difficult to come in sporadically. He’d earned his chance to play in the game for his patience and he didn’t do anything wrong, he made a couple of decent stops. Shaun though will be back on Saturday, both lads knew that, Shaun deserves to come back for his displays so far this season. Big Jerome needed a game after his injury and bearing in mind Liam’s out this weekend. He knows he can do a bit better than he did on Saturday but when he’s fit he’s a hell of as player. Matty knows he didn’t do well when he came on at Grantham, it was a substitution I didn’t like making in replacing a sub with a sub but it was done for the good of the team. But he came in on Saturday and I thought he was comfortably man of the match, he was quality. We’re just awaiting a response from Salford to see whether we can keep him any longer.”

Callum Chippendale will be assessed ahead of the weekend after coming off with a “Knock” against Rushden.

Meanwhile striker Tyreece Onyeke who has been on loan from Crewe has returned to the League one club.

“It’s not always easy for a lad to come from the full time game into this league so he’s gone back with our thanks and best wishes” Phillips added.

Ian Richardson