the npl

Weekly News | 7/9/21

Posted on
Weekly News | 7/9/21

Matlock Town suffered a nasty reminder this week that football can come and have a nasty habit of biting you on the backside when things look to be going well.

Having won five league games on the trot, the Gladiators were favourites to beat Belper Town in the Emirates FA Cup but a terrible performance by Paul Phillips’ men saw the Nailers go through by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline.

Given the tie attracted a bumper 1052 crowd, it was a setback the Gladiators could have done without, their troubles being magnified by injuries to two of their strike force.

Jerome Greaves, the six foot plus loanee from Rotherham United, had scored his first two Matlock goals in the 3-0 win against Gainsborough Trinity, but he missed the Belper tie having torn a hamstring while only eight minutes into the game, Ross Hannah was forced off with a hamstring pull.

The diagnosis on both players is the worst Matlock could have feared with Greaves likely to be out for up to twelve weeks and Hannah for six weeks.

Matlock also had defender Jamie Sharman sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity as he impeded Jonathan Margetts to concede a penalty. Margetts, once on loan at Matlock during 2018/19 scored and also added two more to record a hat-trick and haunt his old club on his first return to the Proctor Cars Stadium.

Phillips was furious after the game, his assistant Dave Wild giving a statement of apology to the Matlock fanbase.

Having had three days to reflect on the result and performance, the Matlock boss said the pain was still there.

“After two or three days I still feel the same. The performance on Saturday was nowhere near where we should be, we let ourselves, the fans and the club down.”

Some supporters were understandably critical on social media, claiming a lack of interest from the Town players, but Phillips replied

“We didn’t play like that on purpose, on the day too many people were below par. To be honest, I’ve not had this before from this group of players. At Coleshill in the FA Trophy we suffered from some lads not having got over Covid. But there’s no excuses from us about Saturday, after all we’d won five games on the trot playing some very good sides. The injuries to Ross and Jerome knocked us a bit going forward but we’d still got Hughesy and Jes (urun Uchebgulam ). We never looked threatening, it’s rare you get a situation when everyone from 1 to 11 is below par. The one bright spark was Chippy (Callum Chippendale) when he came on, he showed energy and drive but it was too little, too late.”

Now with two home games in the league in the coming week after their scheduled trip to Stafford Rangers on Tuesday was called off due to Stafford having an FA Cup replay , Matlock will want to bounce back quickly with a similar response to the one they had after the opening day defeat at Ashton United.

Matlock take on Stalybridge Celtic at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday before Witton Albion are the visitors on Tuesday night.

“I’ve said there’d be disappointments along the way, that’s football but with the big crowd we had watching on Saturday it’s even more annoying. It’s now up to the lads to respond in the best possible way by getting a good run in the FA Trophy when that comes around and by keeping in contention near the top of the league.”

Phillips watched Stalybridge lose 2-0 at home to Basford on Tuesday while assistant Wild supervised training. At least results in the league helped Matlock retain their 3rd position. Leaders South Shields were held 1-1 at home by Ashton United while second placed Buxton had an FA Cup replay. Bamber Bridge and Lancaster City could both have overtaken the Gladiators, but Brig drew 1-1 at home to Radcliffe and City were beaten 1-0 at home by Warrington Town.

“I’m sure the lads will be itching to put right the wrongs of Saturday, from my point of view I wish we’d had a game on Tuesday but we’ll be looking to put in a good performance against Stalybridge before we take on Witton. We’ve got fifteen points out of eighteen and I think we’d have taken that before a ball was kicked.”

Phillips labelled the loss of Greaves and Hannah as “a big dent in our forward line.”

“We’d worked hard to get Jerome’s signing over the line and Ross had done well in pre season, scored two against Basford before serving his suspension. Having said that we were well covered in that department I’ll have to try and bring in another forward and I’m working on that at the moment.”

Whether there is progress in that area before the weekend remains to be seen but Phillips will have to make one more enforced change with Ashton Hall being the likely replacement for Sharman who is suspended. Chippendale could be back in the starting line up after a bright showing as a substitute last weekend.

There is no further news relating to Jonathan Wafula after Frickley Athletic’s seven day approach but Oli Greaves looks likely to join Bradford Park Avenue after the National League North outfit gave seven days notice of approach to Matlock.

Ian Richardson