the npl

Weekly News | 9.2.22

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Weekly News | 9.2.22

Two disappointing results at home this week may have stalled Matlock Town’s title charge, but manager Paul Phillips message to players, club officials and fans is clear.

“Let’s all stick together,“ he proclaimed after watching his side held to a scoreless draw by foot of the table Grantham Town on Tuesday, this following Saturday’s last gasp 1-0 defeat to mid table Lancaster City.

Phillips, in a typically passionate and honest interview, remained upbeat and defiant, especially heartened by the news of second placed South Shields loss at nine man Morpeth on Tuesday, this coming after Shields had shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Buxton, a result which suited Matlock down to the ground.

Matlock’s lead had been cut to two points after Saturday, but Tuesday night’s scores saw the Gladiators three point lead re-established.

Of course, six points out of six for Matlock would have left them in an extremely promising position with an eight point lead, so it could have been an opportunity missed.

Assessing the two matches, Phillips was clearly frustrated and could not hide his disappointment .

“We’ve not been good enough. Saturday was unacceptable. We were miles off it. On Tuesday we did everything we could to try and get the goal we needed in a scrappy game, let ourselves down a bit in the last two games. I’ll take every bit of criticism for Saturday. Against Grantham the quality wasn’t fantastic but the desire, the workrate was what we want. We need to start games right and I don’t think we did that in either game. We’re taking too long to get started, maybe on Tuesday it was down to the four or five changes we made but we needed to make those changes. I thought Luke Daly came in and did really well.”

Unhappy with some of the criticism from some of the crowd on Tuesday, Phillips said it is important people see the bigger picture.

“We’ve got a kind of necklace around our necks because being at the top everyone wants to beat you, we’re a scalp. Matlock have been near the bottom for much of the last ten years and some comments I’ve heard tonight are tragic. Listen, there’s no-one more disappointed with these last two results than myself, my management team and the lads in the dressing room. Tonight we had a nailed on penalty decision not given and we’ve not taken two massive chances. One point could have been okay if we’d have won on Saturday, but remember Grantham are fighting for their lives, they drew at Lancaster last week and at Warrington on Saturday. So is it a good point, I’ll tell you in a few weeks.”

Phillips reiterated his previously made point that had he said at the start of the season Matlock would be three points clear of South Shields at the top with fourteen games left, he would be talking nonsense.

“I think I’s be locked up, little old Matlock three points in front of South Shields with fourteen games to go. But that’s where we are and wherever we eventually finish is where we deserve to finish, but we’ll continue to work hard, roll our sleeves up and have a real go.”

Matlock head to eighth placed Whitby on Saturday and will do so without defensive king pin Ryan Qualter who begins a three match ban after his red card on Saturday.

“Ryan’s a massive miss for us so now it’s up to the likes of Jamie Sharman, Ioan Evans, Reece Kendall or whoever plays in there to step up to the plate. Overall we’ve got a big enough squad so Marcus Marshall or Riece Bertram who missed out on Tuesday will join the squad on Saturday.”

Whitby were 3-2 winners at Matlock in November so the Gladiators will be looking to put matters right against a side who suffered disappointment in their North Yorkshire coast derby on Tuesday, going down 2-1 at Scarborough Athletic.

“Whitby will clearly want to bounce back so we have to be ready for that but perhaps being away might help us a little, home teams have to come out and have a go, maybe to our benefit. We’ve got some massive games coming up. Buxton have had a dip in form and South Shields have taken the one point from their two games so there’s a lot of pressure on at this stage. The team that wins it will be the one that handles the pressure best. So let’s all stick together to get this club where we all want it to be.”

Phillips had added two players to his squad and sent one out on loan between the Lancaster and Grantham matches.

On Monday Town announced the acquisition of former Basford, Carlton, Ilkeston and Belper midfielder Riece Bertram following his release by the Nailers. The twenty four hours later, striker Reece Webb-Foster was brought in from Colne with winger Jesurun Uchegbulam going to Colne on a month’s loan.

Fans wishing to travel by coach to Whitby leaving at 8.30 am can do so by contacting Tom Wright on 07850 065968 or booking via the club shop on 01629 583866.

Ian Richardson