the npl

Weekly News | 9.3.22

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Weekly News | 9.3.22

Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips considered it was two points dropped as the Gladiators were held to a 1-1 draw by mid table Ashton United at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night.

After halting their winless run at the sixth time of asking by beating Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday, Matlock were hoping for three more points in front of their home fans following four away matches in succession.

Things looked rosy when surprise inclusion Jesurun Uchhegbulam fired them on front on 20 minutes with as Phillips suggested, Matlock playing their best football for some time. Ashton created little but levelled through a beautifully struck Cole Lonsdale free kick eight minutes before half time.

"Definitely two points dropped, we need to convert chances when we're on top, I've been saying that consistently" said Phillips.

That's the best we've played in a while. They hadn't created a lot and didn't throughout but they get a free kick and the bug bear for me is how it came about,we shouldn't have to be making tackles like that there when things could have been sorted further up the field."

The equaliser gave Ashton the chance of a point and they used every tactic possible to ensure they got it and frustrate Matlock.

"They (Ashton) must have wasted fifteen, twenty minutes, it was so annoying. It seems every time I give a referee praise at half time it has an adverse effect. Ashton hardly had a shot and got what they came for."

But Phillips is conscious that Matlock have to help themselves to win these important games and stay in contention at the top of the table.

" We haven't got enough goals, on recent games we've had four sometimes five forwards on towards the end, it puts extra pressure on the lads at the back not to be caught out and concede. ,Putting these extra attackers on hasn't worked, our work on the second phase hasn't been good enough. Ashton did everything they could to get their point, we've got to learn to cope with that pressure and we're tending to duck under that pressure."

Phillips says Matlock missed the attacking noise of Ross Hannah who along with skipper Liam Hughes, was on the scoresheet in the 2-1 win at Gainsborough.

"We were comfortably the better side and should have won by more. Ross Hannah was different class, unfortunately tonight he wasn't fit enough with s tight hamstring. I wanted to play him but he had a test before the game and wasn't quite right. Ross offers us. different element, he knows where to go."

A surprise inclusion in the starting eleven on Tuesday was Jesurun Uchhegbulam who has been on loan at Colne.

The wide man operated as a left wing back and had a fine game capped by his goal.

The Matlock boss was pleased with Uchegbulam but added that he wants to see him kick on.

,"We all know what he can do, there's nobody better when he's on his game but he needs to play like he did tonight on upcoming games, it's no use him producing the goods in just one game. He needs to appreciate and embrace the environment he's in, turn up for training in the right gear, be more professional both on and off the field. If he can do that, then he's got a great future in the game"

Buxton are the new leaders after beating Bamber Bridge and Witton Albion 4-0 and 3-1 respectively to have a three points advantage over third placed Town who have played a game less. South Shields lie in second with one more point than Matlock, both with nine games to play

"I tend not to look at the other teams" said Phillips. There's nine games to go and we have to do our own jobs."

It's another home clash on Saturday and it could be a similar battle to the Ashton game against Atherton Collieries. Matlock have the suspended duo of Jamie Sharman and Reece Kendall available once more so it could mean that Adam Yates who for the second time this season, came out of retirement to play in the last three matches, will step down.

Phillips reiterated he wants more from his attacking players.

"If they're going to score goals the forwards have got to be prepared to get on where it hurts, to get in there before the centre half. If we can do that things will be better, we'll be a good team and put the opposition to the sword and get three points in the skip.

The form of goalkeeper Joe Young has again brought praise from Phillips who has agreed to help NPL Midlands Division play off contenders Carlton Town by allowing Shaun Rowley to join them. Rowley broke a finger on training last November and has not been able to dislodge Young in recent weeks.

The Nottingham club lost Kieran Preston who was recalled by parent club Basford United and on Saturday replacement Mark Rathbone had to go off early in their 3-3 draw at home to Halesowen Town.

"Shaun's been out for a game with Wythenshawe Town but wants a regular game. Joe's been excellent, you can tell he's an excellent goalkeeper who will do well at Wolves, He's been brilliant and he's earned the right to carry on, but we've got a gentleman's agreement with Carlton that should anything happen to Joe then Shaun comes back to us"explained Phillips.

"Joe has the number one shirt at present and I couldn't be cruel and say to Shaun, no you can't play when the lad clearly wants to play. We love Shaun and if everything goes to plan Shaun will be here next season."

The Ashton game saw both sides pay their respects to the people of Ukraine. Matlock had pledged to donate 25 per cent of their match day income on Tuesday to the Red Cross Appeal Before kick off both sides held a Ukrainian flag in the centre circle as the crowd applauded.

Ian Richardson