the npl

Weekly News | 3.1.24

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Weekly News | 3.1.24

“Every game’s a cup final for us now” said Matlock boss Martin Carruthers in midweek after a festive period which did not live up to his demands or expectations.

The Gladiators won one, drew one and lost one of their three league outings losing ground in the play off race, they now trail fifth placed Whitby Town by seven points having played a game more than the Seasiders.

The 1-0 win in the Derbyshire derby at Ilkeston on Boxing Day looked to have got Matlock back on track after two home points were dropped in a 1-1 home draw with Morpeth but they received what Carruthers hopes is “ a huge kick up the backside” as bottom markers Stafford Rangers came to the Proctor Cars Stadium to better the hosts in every department and earn a deserved 3-1 victory.

“ We were second best from start to finish, Stafford had more desire, more aggression and wanted to win the game more, We knew they’d come off the back of a 4-0 home win over Gainsborough and their tails would be up. We could have gone a point outside the play offs but from our point of view, every player didn’t turn up, We’d come off a great result at Ilkeston and it looked as if we thought it would be a stroll in the park on Saturday. The result now needs to be a huge kick up the backside for us. The one consolation is that we have more home games than away for the rest of the season which in normal circumstances is a huge plus for us.”

Matlock travel to Atherton to take on the league’s bottom side for the second successive Saturday this weekend before Macclesfield, currently in fourth and the pre season title favourites visit the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night.

Carruthers says his side need to be fully focused on bringing three points home from Lancashire ahead of the Macclesfield match.

“It’s not the best pitch or stadium but they’re in the dogfight at the bottom and will be fighting for their lives. This is something we’ll be hammering into the players at Thursday night training, we certainly don’t want a repeat of last week. It’s a mentality thing, we’ve got to work harder than them and show that we want to win this game.”

A totally different match is expected against the Silkmen who may yet overhaul leaders Radcliffe in their pursuit of the league title despite suffering some surprise defeats during the season.

“I think we’ll need a Radcliffe performance to beat Macclesfield” said Carruthers, recalling that the Gladiators beat Radcliffe 4-0 at the Proctor Cars Stadium in early November.

“I’ve got no doubts about our mentality against the “big” sides, Macclesfield are a top side who are in good form but we must ensure we do the business against Atherton first before we think about Macclesfield.”

Ian Richardson