the npl

Weekly News - 1/12/21

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Weekly News - 1/12/21

Paul Phillips says the FA Trophy is now firmly on the back burner with the number one objective now being to collect maximum points from their next two league matches.

Matlock saw off the potentially dangerous challenge from NPL Eastern Division table toppers Marske United in their delayed 2nd Round clash at the Proctor Cars Stadium by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday evening after snow led to the match being postponed last Saturday.

That win, thanks to a brace and a wonderful performance from Alex Byrne plus a Reece Kendall header, earned the Gladiators a highly attractive home tie against National League North York City on December 18.

But last Saturday Bamber Bridge took advantage of Matlock, South Shields and Buxton not being in league action to take over at the top as a Neil Apter penalty with four minutes left saw them beat visiting Basford United 1-0.

Matlock therefore dropped to second, a point behind Brig but with a game in hand.

The Matlock boss says the focus is now firmly on gaining wins at home to Stafford Rangers this Saturday and at Stalybridge Celtic seven days later.

“We’ve got to put the Trophy to bed now and concentrate fully on getting wins again in the league. We need to start pushing on in the league and we need to be looking to get six more league points and then we can look at the York game.”

Phillips acknowledges that the Stafford game will be difficult. Having been at the bottom of the table for the last two unfinished seasons, Rangers are having a much better season and currently lie in seventh spot. In September Matlock were beaten 2-0 at Marston Road.

“We owe them one after the defeat down there. We know what they’re about and they use the long throw to good effect so we’ll have to be on the ball to combat that. Hopefully our pitch will be better than the one at Stafford but credit to them, they’re doing well and we need to be on our game. It’s a good opportunity for us with Buxton in the FA Cup.”

Phillips was in the main pleased with Matlock’s showing against Marske in what could have been a tricky tie.

Marske had knocked both South Shields and National League North Chester out of the FA Cup and had also eliminated FC United of Manchester from the FA Trophy, all higher placed in the pyramid.

The Gladiators made the tie a little more difficult than it should have been on the night, conceding headers to Matty Tymon early and late in the game.

“We seem to make a habit of making things more difficult for ourselves, we did it against Rushden in an earlier round. For seventy minutes we were dominant, even when they scored early in the game. Our tempo was good and we could have scored a couple more than the two we got in the first half. Late on Marske threw the kitchen sink at us but we stood up to it but on the whole I think we deserved to win by more.”

Phillips was frustrated by the way the two goals were conceded.

“We can’t carry on conceding two poor goals like that, it’s not in our DNA and it;’s something I and the players will have to sort. Also I thought we gave the ball away too easily near the end, we’ve got to manage games better.”

But looking at the bigger picture Phillips says the win in a cup competition is all important.

“The biggest thing is to get through, the game was a great advert for non league football in the first half. It was important for everyone at the club to win the game, now we’ve got a good game with York to look forward to, but we’ll look at that after we’ve got the two important league games out of the way. One other point is that we've got to do things in the right manner if we’re to go on and progress in the league and cup games, better sides will punish us.”

Not for the first time this season, Alex Byrne put in a man of the match performance with a brace of goals and an assist.

“He was brilliant , we know what he can do and he can put in those types of performances when he simplifies his game. He was immense in the first half and you also have to admire his workrate” Phillips added.

The boss also praised the fans who turned out on a wet November night.

“The fans really got behind us and it was great to hear the shouting and encouragement, we get decent numbers here but we don’t always get the loud backing so it was good to hear. Thank you to everyone who turned out, and the York game should produce a really good crowd and a good reward for them.”

Callum Chippendale returned to the squad and gained some minutes as a substitute against Marske with no adverse reaction.

Phillips can also add midfielders Luke Hall and Luke Daly plus forward Jamie Cooke to his squad for the Stafford game.

Cooke was not allowed to play in the Trophy by parent club FC Halifax while Hall was cup tied having played for Sheffield earlier in the competition. Daly meanwhile was poorly and advised to stay at home.

Ian Richardson