the npl

Weekly News | 9.4.24

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Weekly News | 9.4.24

Mark Atkins says it is important that Matlock get the required points total they need to confirm their NPL Premier Division status off their own back.

The Gladiators went down to a fifth defeat in a row as champions elect Radcliffe sent them home empty handed yet again with a 4-0 victory at the Neuven Stadium on Saturday to avenge the 4-0 beating Matlock gave them at the Proctor Cars Stadium back in November. With Stafford Rangers winning 1-0 at home to Whitby Town the scenario remains that if Stafford win all of their remaining games and Matlock lose all theirs, the Gladiators could be relegated.

This will also depend on how Basford United, now managed by former Matlock boss Martin Carruthers, fare on their remaining three matches. Basford trail Matlock by five points following their narrow defeat at Bradford (Park Avenue) last weekend and have played two more matches than the Gladiators.

So realistically Matlock need one point from their remaining five outings. Four of these are on home soil but Matlock haven’t found life easy on their own patch recently, losing their last three games after having a tidy home record up until that point.

“With five games left you’d expect to get that point, really we should get the points we need. But it remains in the back of your mind that we still need that point, we know results elsewhere could make life easier, but it’s got to be about what we do. From mine and Yatesy’s perspective, we’d like to finish the job ourselves so we know we’ve done it ourselves, we can say we did it. It’s been a difficult few months for the club and we want to get over the line” said Atkins.

Talking about the Radcliffe defeat, Atkins was not too downhearted. Few would have expected the Gladiators to bring anything home.

“Radcliffe are a very good side, probably one of the best at this level for a few years. We started well, John Johnston went close and we had chances to go in front. I also thought the first minute challenge on Yatesy was a red card rather than a yellow so ten against eleven might have made things a little difficult for Radcliffe. After doing so well we conceded a poor goal which was very disappointing. We tried to change things around at half time but they got a worldy of a second goal and were generally too good for us in most departments. It wasn’t a four niller and we never gave up.”

Atkins believes fitness issues are letting Matlock down particularly as they tend to capitulate in the latter stages. This was particularly evident in the 2-1 home loss to Ilkeston Town on Easter Monday when Matlock were ahead with seven minutes to go but were beaten 2-1. Had Matlock held out for the win or even the draw, there would be no lingering worries or squeaky bum moments.

“Fitness levels aren’t what they should be with us running out of steam but it’s something we’ve got to try and manage and get the lads to put in a full performance” Atkins added as he emphasised that positivity needs to remain throughout the club.

“We need to keep positive, we talk about each defeat we’ve had and what we can do better, it’s a matter of leaving all what’s happened behind and putting all our attention on the next game.”

That next game is a visit from Guiseley on Saturday followed by Gainsborough Trinity coming to the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday evening. Tuesday’s home clash with Ashton United was postponed following heavy rain which waterlogged the playing surface.

“I’ve seen both Guiseley and Gainsborough during the season but really it’s all about us. Confidence takes a hit when you’re on a bad run but if they can show the togetherness then I’m sure we can get the results we want as we want to collect as many points as we can before the end of the season.”

Harry Wood will miss both games this week as he completes a suspension following his red card against Marine. But George Wilkinson and Kornell McDonald could return after injury. Liam Hardy broke a finger and hurt an ankle at Radcliffe is expected to be fit as is Adam Yates who took one or two bangs last weekend.

After Gainsborough Matlock travel to Hyde and face Ashton and Bradford (Park Avenue) at home on the final day. Stafford visit Atherton Colleries this weekend and face Ashton at home before completing their fixtures at Morpeth. Basford host Macclesfield on Saturday, travel to Radcliffe and play Bamber Bridge at home in their final match.

Last Sunday saw 332 fans at Adam Yates’ testimonial game when a Matlock Town All Stars team were 4-2 winners over Matlock Town Legends. The All Stars scorers were James Lukic own goal, Curtis Morrison, Kieran Watson and Paul Ennis with Martin Foster and Massiah McDonald on target for the Legends.

“I loved every minute of it” said Yates.

“All the lads were top draw in difficult conditions, it was a tremendous day. Matlock Town’s been my life for the past fifteen years, it’s a huge commitment on and off the field. Matlock’s an amazing club, it’s been an amazing ride. The body’s holding up so we’ll see what happens.”

Ian Richardson