the npl

Weekly News | 3.4.24

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Weekly News | 3.4.24

Two narrow home defeats greeted interim bosses Adam Yates and Mark Atkins in their first two matches in charge at Matlock Town to make it four consecutive defeats in a run where just four points have been accrued out of the last thirty on offer.

So to have to face champions elect Radcliffe away from home on Saturday and then sixth placed Ashton United at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday is a pretty daunting prospect.

But despite the losses against play-off chasing Marine on Saturday followed by mid table Ilkeston Town on easter Monday, Atkins remains buoyant.

“From what I’ve seen so far we can’t fault the effort and determination of the players, they’ve given it their all and I’m quite happy in that regard . We know we’re short in certain areas but it is what it is. We’re short of bodies that have that extra quality we need., we need that extra quality in the final third, everyone can see that. I’m convinced we’d have beaten Ilkeston if we’d got that.”

So what has pleased the former Blackburn Rovers Premiership title winner?

“The way we defended against a good side like Marine impressed me , we were never opened up in open play until the sending off and even then the lads kept on going. We went into Monday’s game saying we needed to play a bit more football and I think we did that with some good link up play and the lads bought into what we wanted. We got what I’d call a few half chances and it would have been nice if one of these had gone in. JJ (John Johnston) got a great goal from the free kick to put us in front but then Ilkeston changed things and went 4-2-4. They threw everything at us and we invited Ilkeston on to us. We got deeper and deeper and that can happen when you’re not winning games and we must learn from that.”

Atkins admits that Matlock face two very difficult games this week.

“They come into the really difficult category, we ‘re up against two very good sides. Radcliffe want to play, three points against us on Saturday could win them the league so it’ll be a good test for the players and ourselves as managers to try and compete at that level .It’s a good game to be involved in. We beat them at our place and no-one truly expects us to go there and come back with anything but maybe we can make life difficult for them and perhaps spring a surprise, that’s the intention. Ashton have been a very good side at this level for a number of years and have now added a bit of quality but we must remain confident that we can get something from these games.”

Matlock are not completely out of the woods yet in terms of relegation but it would still be a massive surprise if they did not retain their NPL Premier Division status for 2024/25. Marske United resigned from the division in January so that accounts for one of the four relegation places. Both Atherton Colleries and Bradford (Park Avenue) cannot reach Matlock’s 38 point tally so that leaves Stafford Rangers who would need to win all four of their remaining matches and hope Matlock lose all six of theirs to move a point ahead of the Gladiators. Rangers also have a vastly inferior goal difference of minus 38 compared to Matlock’s minus 14. Former Matlock boss Martin Carruthers quickly took over at Basford and guided the to two wins against Atherton and Worksop Town over Easter, they remain five points adrift of Matlock but have played two games more.

Matlock have a tricky run in though, some would say a terrible run in given their rock bottom form. After Radcliffe and Ashton, Matlock then host Guiseley and Gainsborough Trinity , travel to Hyde and then facing Bradford at the Proctor Cars Stadium on the final day. Stafford host Whitby Town this weekend, visit Atherton Colleries and host Ashton before they make the long trek to Morpeth on the final day. Basford visit Bradford on Saturday, host Macclesfield and then travel to Radcliffe before they welcome Bamber Bridge to Greenwich Avenue for the final game.

“We need that one or ideally three points as soon as possible” Atkins agreed.

“Performances have got better in each game since Adam and me took charge and a positive result sooner rather than later will be a boost for us all.”

Midfielder Harry Wood's red card in the Marine defeat means he commences a three match ban this weekend and Matlock will need to assess Kornell McDonald ahead of the weekend after he limped off against Ilkeston.

“He had a tight hamstring but hopefully he’ll be okay, Emily the physio thinks it was more cramp than anything” Atkins added.

Matlock brought in the vastly experienced striker Liam Hardy on transfer deadline day last Thursday and once he settles in Matlock will be hoping he can provide a goal or two to finally achieve the positive result everyone at the club wants.

Atkins was full of praise for the support he personally has received plus that extended to the team since his arrival. The Marine match attracted 1022 through the gate and although the Ilkeston game saw a lower attendance of 917, the poor weather earlier on Monday could have been a contributory factor.

“Stay with us, we’ve had good crowds and the atmosphere’s been great. People have been fantastic with me welcoming ne back and I really appreciate that but the supporters have remained behind the team which is important for we need everyone together, particularly at present.”


Mr Matlock Town Adam Yates has his testimonial game at the Proctor Cars Stadium this coming Sunday and this time club officials are praying that the weather is kind to enable the match to take place.

Everything was arranged for the game to be played on March 17 but a deluge of rain on top of an already sodden pitch meant the decision to postpone was a formality.

So it’s attempt number two on Sunday when a Matlock Town All Stars team faces a Matlock Town Legends squad, the teams featuring a host of former Matlock players and opponents Adam has faced in his fifteen years with the club.

Kick off is at 1 pm with the turnstiles opening at 11 am when again a day of fun, run in conjunction with Ashgate Hospice , an organisation close to Adam’s heart, will hopefully make it a memorable day for an outstanding servant to the Gladiators who has played in excess of 550 games since making his debut on 8 March 2009 against FC United Of Manchester.

“We hope that everyone will come down and have a great day, say thank you to one of our best players in recent times who is still very much part of our club as joint interim manager. There’s plenty of fun for everyone, a chance to meet some great former Matlock players, so we’re hoping the weather is kind this time and Adam can have a top day” said a Matlock spokesman.