the npl

Weekly News - 15/12/21

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Weekly News - 15/12/21

Paul Phillips says his Matlock Town side will be taking Saturday’s mouth watering Buildbase FA Trophy 3rd Round home clash with National League North York City seriously, despite having ambitions of promotion from the Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division.

After last week’s league matches, the Gladiators lie second, two points behind leaders Buxton having played a game more, Matlock’s 2-0 win at Stalybridge Celtic strengthening their position near the top with Bamber Bridge losing 2-0 at home to Scarborough Athletic and South Shields also being beaten on home soil, 2-1 by Hyde United. Matlock host the Bucks at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Monday 27 December (3pm).

For Matlock it was their first league win in five games thanks to second half goals from man of the match Ryan Qualter and Jesurun Uchegbulam.

Phillips also acknowledges that York will start as favourites to win but he hopes his side will have something up their sleeve to cause a shock against a York side who have twice won the FA Trophy and been runners up once.

“We want to win the game on Saturday” Phillips insisted.

“We want to win both the York and the Buxton games but for the moment it’s the York game we’ll be concentrating on and we’ll start thinking about Buxton next week. We let the club down massively against Belper in the FA Cup and we wanted a good run in the Trophy to make up for that performance the best we could. York will start as favourites, they’re a big club especially at this level, we’re quite happy to be labelled as underdogs but make no mistake the lads are up for it and want to go further in the competition.”

Looking back at the win at Stalybridge which earned the Gladiators their first league double of the campaign after a 2-1 home win earlier in the season, Phillips said everything went to plan after their preparation during the week.

“We played well, everything we did was similar to what we’d built on as time’s gone on. I don’t think Stalybridge troubled us too much and then we had two or three chances near the end of the first half. Conditions weren’t great but we played some good stuff in the right areas. We again impressed on the lads that clean sheets win football matches. In training we said let’s be hard to beat again, do the right things in the right areas. We did that and it paid off.”

Phillips praised man of the match Ryan Qualter, who scored the opener and then made an incredible goal line clearance at 1-0 and a number of other important interceptions during the game.

“He’s been immense all season, it’s hard to recall him having a poor game for us. As I’ve said before I’m not sure if there’s a better centre half than him in this league or even the one above.”

Phillips brought in two new additions and released winger Craig King to join Belper Town before the trip to Bower Fold.

Midfielder Nathan Okome has joined on loan from Chorley but goalkeeper Dan Wallis made a permanent move back to the Proctor Cars Stadium after a two years absence.

“Having Dan in goal helped us a lot, his experience is a bonus and his positioning is much better, he did well, he handled the ball well and his kicking was very good. I’ve no doubts Coops (Paul Cooper) will become a very good goalkeeper but he needs more experience and needs to play more games out on loan first, perhaps it was too much, too soon for him.”

Wallis is cup tied for Saturday and with Cooper carrying a slight injury, Phillips is hoping to bring in a replacement goalkeeper on loan. Matlock’s other goalkeeper, apart from Phillips himself, Alfie Roberts has been recalled from his loan spell with Matlock by parent club Derby County. There has been a Covid outbreak in the Rams’ camp and Roberts was on the bench for Derby’s 1-0 home win over Blackpool last Saturday.

Also missing is captain Liam Hughes who serves the second of a two match ban following his red card at the end of the home defeat by Stafford Rangers.

But Phillips is hoping that midfielder Luke Daly might be fit to play a part against York.

The former South Shields midfielder has only made one substitute appearance at Morpeth Town since joining Matlock nearly a month ago. Since then he has been hit by illness.

“It’s not been Covid but he’s been laid low with a bad chest infection. He was down for the Stafford game but still didn’t feel in top form and he warmed up with the players last week at Stalybridge before going for a good run with one of our training staff. The weather against Stafford and Stalybridge wasn’t ideal for him to feature after feeling poorly but we’re hoping he’ll be able to be involved on Saturday.”

Matlock are expecting big crowds for both the York and Buxton matches and Phillips praised the eighty or so Matlock fans who travelled to Stalybridge on Saturday.

“I thought I might have put my foot in it saying we get a good following but they’re not that vocal but on Saturday the supporters were fantastic, at both ends of the ground, and they really got behind us, so well done to them.”

Ian Richardson