the npl

Weekly News - 13.4.22

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Weekly News - 13.4.22

Injuries are plaguing Matlock Town ahead of the Easter programme when the Gladiators hope to confirm their place in the NPL Premier Division play-offs.

There’s just three games remaining in the regular 2021/22 campaign and Matlock need three more points to be assured of extending their season by one and hopefully two more matches.

The Easter games see them host Nantwich Town on Saturday before the big A6 derby at current leaders and championship favourites Buxton on Easter Monday.

But they could have as many as six players out with captain Liam Hiughes and Callum Chippendale all rated as 50/50 for Saturday to add to the already injured trio of midfielders Alex Wiles and Liam King plus striker Reece Webb-Foster.

And there’ll be a change of goalkeeper for the Nantwich clash with Joe Young being ruled out with concussion following a clash in the dying seconds of Saturday’s 1-0 win at Basford United.

For good measure, defensive king pin Ryan Qualter battled through the ninety minutes last weekend with a back injury having not trained during the week and put in a top class performance as the Gladiators kept a fourth clean sheet in succession.

“We won’t use injuries as an excuse but we’re not having the best of luck with injuries at the moment. Joe’s been great for us in goal, he’ll not make it for Saturday but hopefully he’ll be alright for Monday. Paul Cooper’s been out and had a couple of games and he’ll have his chance on Saturday. Liam Hughes’ knee has ballooned up so we’ll need to see how he is and Chippy (Callum Chippendale) missed the game on Saturday with an abducta injury he got against Morpeth.”

Phillips praised Qualter adding

“He typifies what we are as a team and squad, he’d not trained . He doesn’t want to miss games so he’s resting at present, doing his own thing so hopefully he’ll be okay to play. He put in a tremendous performance playing through the pain barrier and it shows how much the club means to him.”

Ideally Matlock would want to confirm their place in the play-offs on Saturday but Phillips acknowledges that they will face tough opposition in a Nantwich team who have shown much better form recently after surprisingly being near the bottom a few weeks ago. The Dabbers currently occupy fifteenth spot.

“We always seem to be playing teams on a good run at the moment. Scarborough, Morpeth and Ashton were all on good runs when we played them and it’s the same with Nantwich. They’re a good team with a good manager and have players who’ve been there and done it at the top of the league. We know how they’ll play so it’s up to us to put our own stamp on the game.”

The Gladiators fans have been starved of goals recently, particularly at the Proctor Cars Stadium with just three attempts finding the opponents net in the last eight home outings. That is something Matlock need to put right.

“It’s not been good enough even though we’ve created a lot of chances. We’ve not had the rub of the green with both Radcliffe;s keeper and the Morpeth keeper being man of the match in the last two games. But it’s not all down to luck and that’s probably why we’re not still in the title race. I and my management team know that. Good strikers cost money but we’re already putting feelers out to try and get that man who’ll get 15/20 goals a season for next year no matter which league we’re in.”

The last two Matlock goals have been converted by Jesurun Uchegbulam who just might be benefiitting from a regular run in the starting eleven.

“We know the ability he has, he’s shown a willingness to work his socks off on the pitch and if we can get him to show the same application off the pitch then we’ve got a real player on our hands. I’ll not change, I’ll not accept players who don’t apply themselves off the pitch .Jez knows that and he’d be in week in/week out with the right application.”

There may be only three games remaining but Phillips wants his side to build on the Basford victory.

“It’s important we start winning games” he added, referring to the win at Gainsborough which was the only other league win for Matlock on 5 March in a run of only two victories in thirteen league matches.

“I thought we did well in the second half on Saturday, we missed chances but kept on going and looked as if we were getting back to something like we were earlier in the season. We need to finish teams off.”

Phillips was reluctant to talk too much about the visit to Buxton, aware that the next game is always the most important but he says it is a game everyone should be looking forward to.

“I wish I was ten or fifteen years younger and could still play in a game like that, it’s what football is all about with a crowd in the region of 2000 probably expected. It’ll be a hard game, they need to win for their own reasons, we want to win for ours. They’re a very good team with probably the biggest budget in the league and Chairman Dave Hopkins has done a tremendous job in getting their infrastructure right. It should be a great occasion.”

Buxton have made the game all ticket and Matlock fans can purchase their tickets from the club shop on Saturday. Ticket prices are £10 adults, £6 concessions with under 16’s being charged £2.

Ian Richardson