the npl

Weekly News | 8.8.23

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Weekly News | 8.8.23

The rehearsals are over and now it’s time for the main event as Matlock Town embark on another Pitching In NPL Premier Division season at home to Bamber Bridge on Saturday.

Both the Gladiators and Brig reached the play-offs last term, with Brig losing 1-0 to Warrington Town in the final, Warrington having convincingly beaten Matlock 4-1 in the semi finals.

So for Matlock and Bamber Bridge to be paired together on the opening day represents a tough opening fixture for both clubs.

“We’re ready to go and we’re looking to get more points than last season as a first objective” said Matlock manager Martin Carruthers.

August will be a busy month with the Gladiators in action six times so a good start is important if Matlock are to realise their aims. They travel to Macclesfield on Tuesday night and also travel to Morpeth , Marine and Stafford Rangers with their other home game comes against Atherton Colleries on Tuesday week.

“We’ll be busy “ Carruthers agreed.

“Obviously we’ll be looking to get off to a winning start on Saturday. Bamber Bridge are a good footballing side with some good young lads, they’re good on the eye as we saw when we beat them at the end of last season. They’ll have done their homework on us and we’ll have done ours, we need to get the ball out wide to get quality balls into our goalscorers.”

Carruthers feels that the Macclesfield game may have dropped in nicely for his team with it being the Silkmens’ first home game since promotion from the NPL Western Division last April. Macclesfield’s title win was their second in succession after winning the North West Counties League twelve months earlier.

“Macclesfield will probably be favourites to win the league this season. I feel it’s probably better to play the leading sides early in the season before they get into their stride. ;It would have been nice to have gone there on a Saturday with an even bigger crowd but I’m sure it’ll still be a spectacle on Tuesday. Then after Macclesfield we go to Morpeth and have four away games in all so we’ll be looking to improve on our away form from last season. Ideally we want to win the two home games and then look at winning at least two of the four away, that would represent a really good start.”

Carruthers has added nine new faces during a busy summer. Locally based goalkeeper Myles Wright will act as understudy to the experienced Saul Deeney while the defence has been bolstered by last week’s loan signing of 19 years old George Wilkinson from Chesterfield who has had Step 3 experience with Southern League Premier Central outfit Coalville Town towards the end of last season. Joe West, an attack minded left back, has come from Gainsborough Trinity.

In midfield Matlock also raided Gainsborough to sign their club captain Andrew Wright who begins a third spell with the Gladiators. Ollie Clark has moved to Matlock from Basford United and the experienced Kemi Augustien, formerly with Swansea City and Birmingham City has also signed on the dotted line although Augustien has been out injured since the friendly defeat by Derby County a month ago. Wide players Nat Crofts from Guiseley and Ewan Catt from Litherland have had their appearances in pre season limited by injuries but the stella signing is probably striker Jon Margetts from Stamford. Margetts has had two spells on loan at Matlock four years ago and last season won the NPL Midlands Division golden boot and player of the season awards as he was instrumental in Stamford being crowned as champions. He scored a mammoth 57 goals in 64 appearances for the Daniels.

With Saul Deeney, Jamie Sharman, Robbie McNicholas, Ioan Evans, Karl Demidh, John Johnston, Reece Styche and Harry Wakefield kept on from last season, and youngsters Archie White, Alex Duhameau and Sam Hooper on loan again from Chesterfield, Carruthers appears to have plenty of options. He will need them in what looks to be an increasingly competitive and difficult division.

Ian Richardson