the npl

Weekly News - 15/1/20

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Two more excellent cup performances in the last week have again raised the hopes of Matlock Town fans that their side can put together a good run in the league to lift them up the BetVictor NPL Premier Division table.

The Gladiators could easily have forced at least an FA Trophy replay from their tie at National League Eastleigh last Saturday. They created two excellent chances in the opening half which were not taken before the Spitfires scored with the last kick of the half and then within a minute of the restart.

Marcus Marshall pulled one back and although Jon Stewart saved a penalty shortly afterwards, Eastleigh were hanging on grimly at the end to edge through 2-1.

Then at Basford on Tuesday Matlock gave as complete a performance as anyone could hope for, thrashing the Nottingham side 5-0 in their own backyard.

Jordan Sinnott, who has received some criticism from supporters, answered back in the best possible way with a hat-trick, the first of his career.

Chib Chilaka and Tomas Poole added the others. Manager Steve Kittrick made some enforced changes and some by choice at Basford and now faces a selection dilemma for the league clash at his former club Scarborough Athletic on Saturday when Luke Dean and Bailey Gooda also return to the Flamingoland Stadium.

“I have a selection headache” admitted Kittrick on Tuesday night. “But it’s a nice one to have James Tague’s come into the team tonight and has done very well. He’s been knocking on my door asking me to play him in there and he’s proved a point. Tomas Poole’s had to go to full back and has been excellent. Chib Chilaka’s a handful as he’s proved tonight, and I’m really pleased for Jordan Sinnott. He gets some flack. He’s got to learn to do the ugly side of the game but he’s scored three and he’s a quality player. But everyone’s done well against a strong Basford line up who’re a very good side at this level. I asked the lads for a response after Saturday in respect of the result and we certainly got one, head and shoulders we were the better team. There was passion, fire but most important of all, we played with a smile on our faces. We played with loads of confidence and belief and took the effort and determination which was there on Saturday into the Basford match. We played as well as we did at the start of the season.”

Matlock had done themselves proud at Eastleigh, the result being the only missing ingredient from a memorable weekend for the club.

The team, management and some officials travelled south on Friday afternoon and stayed in a Winchester hotel overnight before completing the trip with a short journey to the ground on Saturday lunchtime.

“We’d done really really well on Saturday and the club had been magnificent and professional in helping us prepare for the match. We missed a couple of chances that on another day go in. Had Jordan (Sinnott) scored his, it would have been a game changer, they’d gone flat and I think we’d have gone on and won. Then we go 2-0 down within a minute of the second half, but credit to the lads, they didn’t throw in the towel, they worked hard, gave it a real go and got one back. Jon saves the penalty which came against the run of the play and we have another real go and they’re hanging on at the end”

Kittrick says that Saturday’s game is “massive.” The Gladiators are now down in 18th spot having led the table in the early weeks. “It’s massive for we need to start getting the points we need to get back up the league and out of a situation we don’t want to be in and get back towards the play off positions. Its doable, we’ve got the quality as we’ve seen tonight, we’ve got to get on with it, work hard, it’d be a nice place to get the league season back on track.”

Dwayne Wiley is expected to be included in Saturday’s squad along with Gooda who missed the Basford win through injury and Jack Rea who came off in midweek with an ankle problem. Dan Bramall missed the Eastleigh tie with tonsillitis and did not feature at Basford.

It’s back to cup action on Tuesday as Alfreton Town visit the Proctor Cars stadium in the quarter finals of the Derbyshire Senior Cup. The winners will be at home to south Normanton Athletic in the semi final next month.

Matlock then travel to Mickleover Sports on Saturday week with more vital league points at stake. Kittrick praised the Matlock support that travelled to the south coast to cheer Matlock on at Eastleigh. The Gladiators were backed by a noisy one hundred plus supporters.

“Our support was fantastic, all you could hear was Matlock throughout the game. I’d like to thank every man, woman and child who spent their hard earned money to come down here on a four and a half hour journey to give us such tremendous support. The players really appreciated it and we’re only sorry we couldn’t get them the win.”

Ian Richardson