the npl

Weekly News - 11/12/19

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Weekly News - 11/12/19

Matlock Town will be looking to continue their recent good cup form this week with two home clashes against higher league opposition.

National League Premier strugglers Chorley are in town on Saturday for a Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Round proper clash before National League North neighbours Alfreton Town visit the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday evening for a Derbyshire Senior Cup quarter final tie..

The Gladiators will go into the games as underdogs but will probably be happy to be playing cup matches with their league results being disappointing following their excellent start to the season.

Their latest league game at FC United of Manchester last weekend brought their heaviest defeat of the season, Tunde Owolabi netting a hat-trick in United’s 5-2 victory.

Matlock struggled to cope with Owolabi’s pace, strength and aggression and while the visitors’ poor defending undoubtedly helped his and United’s cause, on Saturday’s evidence, Owolabi looked to be the best centre forward in the division who should soon be attracting interest from higher division clubs.

United were afforded too much time and space all over the pitch.

“We defended poorly as a team after having set off really well. We got the early goal and after they equalised, Marshy got us a very good second goal. When you look at it though, all of the goals we let in were soft and could have been avoided. They were down to individual mistakes, nobody put in a serious tackle. I’m not taking anything away from FC United or Tunde, but we never touched him. He bullied us, our defenders let him do what he wanted, You’ve got to compete. He deserved his goals but we gave him and United every one.”

Kittrick says Matlock need to return to their early season displays which saw them unbeaten as they won four out of their first six league matches.

“We’ve got to get back to how we were early doors when there was a greater work ethic when we stayed in games. On paper we’ve got a good side but the players should be offering more both individually and as a team. FC United’s a tough place to go to but at 2-1 up we needed to close ranks and shut up shop a little as we were far too open. We’ve got to be better at the back but also defend better as a team.”

The Matlock boss sees the FA Trophy game as “ a great opportunity to bounce back.”

“Chorley are a bit up and down but they’ll come here wanting to put on a good show. They have quality players, they’re a good footballing side in what is a tough, tough league as I’ve found out in the past. Saturday is a great opportunity for us to show what we’re about and bounce back. We’ll be underdogs, but we’ve got to perform and if we can perform like we did at the start of the season we’ve got a chance. We need to play well and be organised defensively.”

Matlock have a decent recent record in the Trophy as they will be looking to reach the last thirty two for the third time in seven seasons. In 2012/13 they defeated higher league Stalybridge Celtic and Mansfield Town before losing to a last gasp Luton Town winner. Three seasons ago FC Halifax and Solihull Moors lost out to Matlock before the Gladiators were beaten 3-2 at Barrow

in the 2nd Round proper. Kittrick’s men have beaten Carlton Town, Ashton United and Redditch United to date for the right to meet Chorley.

Alfreton knocked Matlock out of the Derbyshire Senior Cup last season, coming from behind to win the semi final 4-2 at the Proctor Cars Stadium. Kittrick says he knows what to expect from the Reds.

“Billy Heath’s an old pal of mine, they’ll be strong and organised and they’ll play a certain way, he’ll not alter the way he plays. We’ve got to play football and if we defend better then we’ll get a lot more out of games. As a unit we’ve got to be better defensively and be hard to beat as we’re giving too many goals away for my liking although we’re looking better going forward.”

In form winger Piteu Crouz is a doubt for both games having tweaked a hamstring in the opening minutes of Saturday’s defeat. Crouz had scored and had an assist in the Integro Cup win at Belper before scoring both goals in the abandonment at Grantham with the Gladiators 2-1 in front.

“We’ll need to take a look at him on Thursday and see how things are. Jack Rea’s not completely recovered yet and we’re looking at another week I think” said Kittrick who added that everyone needed to stick together with a challenging run of games on the horizon.

“The fans, the board, everyone must stay together and we must dig our way through this difficult time. We all know we need league points but we’ve got to put last Saturday to bed now and.learn from it. Individual players who had poor games don’t need telling although they were told after the game. We all need to be positive.”

If the Chorley game ends in a draw the replay will be at Victory Park on Tuesday and the Alfreton game will be delayed until the new year.

Matlock Town will be spreading the Christmas spirit for the second year running as they will be holding a special Christmas Day lunch in their Shorts Lounge.

The event was held for the first time in 2018 for local people who otherwise would not enjoy a Christmas Day lunch proved to be a resounding success and event organiser, Matlock Vice-Chairman Bryn Apperley had no hesitation in rounding up his troops for a second year.

“It was a great day last year and everyone really enjoyed themselves. We’ll be catering for up to 36 guests and we’ll have as many as 25 of my family members and volunteers helping out.”

Financial support is being provided by the Local Grant Fund, Rotary Club, Ernest Bailey Grant, Premier Gas, K & H Haulage, John Palin the greengrocer and Coates the butchers. There will be free transport to and from the event for those who need it.”

Mr Apperley believes it is important that the football club plays a key role within the local community.

“We at Matlock Town are really pleased to be able to help local people, particularly at this time of the year. We have a great band of volunteers who are prepared to give up their Christmas Day, we couldn’t stage the event without them and we’re extremely grateful to them. We’re also indebted to the local businesses and organisations for their financial support which is essential to fund the project.”

Ian Richardson