the npl

Weekly News | 3.1.23

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Weekly News | 3.1.23

Matlock Town boss Martin Carruthers must be thinking he’s walked under a ladder as 2023 could not have got off to a worse start.

The Gladiators were beaten 3-0 at Gainsborough Trinity in their opening game of the new year as Carruthers saw his side’s fortunes dramatically change after the joy of a 4-0 home win over Belper Town in his first game in charge just a week earlier.

But the 3-0 result does not tell the whole story. Matlock lost goalkeeper Jim Pollard, sent off in the 35th minute for allegedly handling the ball outside the box, the referee brandishing a straight red card after Pollard had earlier been booked for delaying the restart of play at a throw in.

A few minutes earlier midfielder Brad Abbott limped off and a trip to hospital after the game revealed that Abbott had a leg break, a result of Shaun Tuton’s reckless kick at him in the Belper game which saw Tuton receive a red card.

Then late in the game Jordan Barnett’s booking was his tenth of the campaign meaning a two match ban for the games versus Marine at home on Tuesday and at Stafford the following Saturday. Pollard has received a one game ban and will miss the Marine match.

So it was definitely a bad day at the office as Carruthers reflected in midweek.

“The performance wasn’t great, we conceded a poor first goal from a corner which put us on the back foot. We didn’t pass the ball well so there was no momentum. The sending off didn’t help, but I felt the lads rallied, they worked their socks off and we had the odd chance that we needed to put away, Qualts (Ryan Qualter) going close just before half time and then the chance for Zander (Alexander Duhameau) where Matt Yates their goalkeeper pulled off a great save. A few minutes later Gainsborough get their second so it’s fine margins but on the day there’s no doubt Gainsborough deserved their win.”

On the sending off, Carruthers disagreed with the decision.

“It’s not a sending-off, it’s actually borderline whether it was in or out of the box, although Jim did himself no favours with the earlier booking, on the day he got his decision making all wrong.”

Carruthers praised Al Byrne who took over the goalkeepers’ gloves with no substitute goalkeeper being named by the Gladiators. Byrne has goalkeeper training in his locker.

“Al Byrne was superb, he made one amazing save and was outstanding so full credit to him.”

The Matlock boss will be hoping that a return to the Proctor Cars Stadium will bode well for his side with the Gladiators having been beaten only once in the league on home soil so far this season.

Town host Morpeth Town on Saturday before welcoming Marine on Tuesday night.

“It’s not been an ideal start to the year with Jordan reaching ten bookings, Jim getting sent off and Brad Abbott breaking his leg on top of a 3-0 defeat but we go again at the weekend and on Tuesday when we want to get back to winning ways.”

Morpeth claimed their first win of the season in August against Matlock at Craik Park (2-0) but are surprisingly struggling in 18th spot so Matlock will be keen to notch their first ever win over the Highwaymen. Marine are back in the NPL Premier Division following promotion via the play-offs in May, having been relegated at the end of the 2018/19 season. They currently stand in sixth spot, a point ahead of tenth placed Matlock both sides having played 22 games,

Carruthers is working hard to bring in new players following these setbacks with Abbott likely to be out for between four to six weeks.

“Obviously we’ll need a goalkeeper before next Tuesday and I’m hoping to have news of a striker and a midfielder later this week” he added.

On player news, Matlock are hoping to be able to extend the loan of Eddie Church from Bradford (Park Avenue) while the Gladiators also signed a new striker ahead of the trip to Gainsborough with Jack Deakin joining following his release by Mansfield Town. Carruthers confirmed that John Johnston will be fit to face Morpeth after missing the last two games through illness, although he was named on the bench.

Fans will have the chance to meet Carruthers and leading club officials at the fans forum being held on Monday night in the Shorts Lounge (7.30pm).

“I’m looking forward to it, like I’ve said we’ve been given such a great welcome by everyone at the club plus the fans who’ve been magnificent so it’ll be great to see you all there and to talk with you all” said Carruthers.

“It was brilliant support at Gainsborough, top class, I’ve never been met with a reception like we had, especially after a 3-0 defeat.”

Ian Richardson