the npl

Weekly News - 18/8/21

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Weekly News - 18/8/21

Paul Phillips was delighted with the response of his Matlock Town side who bounced back from a disappointing defeat and performance at Ashton United in their season’s opener on Saturday to earn a comfortable victory at home to Basford United on Tuesday night.

Ross Hannah scored twice in the opening seventeen minutes but was then sent off for an alleged elbow used on Basford defender Stefan Galinski with twenty five minutes left. Even then the Nottingham side rarely threatened Shaun Rowley in the Matlock goal, their consolation coming fortuitously from substitute Rev James with three minutes to go.

“For sixty odd minutes we were cruising in the game, the players executed the game plan dead right, our two forwards did very well as did the two wing backs and defensively we were excellent. The big disappointment is that it took our poor display on Saturday to get the response, just like last year.”

Phillips understandably felt deflated over the weekend after a flat performance at a club for whom he had played and managed, so the tonic from Tuesday night’s performance and result was just what he and everyone connected with the Gladiators wanted.

“Listen Manchester City have lost two games in the last two weeks and for them it must feel like the end of the world. We felt down, I must shoulder the blame for what happened but Saturday’s gone. The response was great, we defended like trojans and Jamie Sharman was outstanding on his debut to say he’d only played seventy minutes throughout pre-season. A big positive was finding a way to break a team down without us having Liam Hughes. Ross Hannah and Jez (Ubechegulam) were both outstanding. Ross got his two goals, he’d been scoring in pre season, what a player, he must have been incredible at age 25/26.”

On Hannah’s sending off, Phillips thought the decision was harsh and believes the referee could have handled it better.

“In my opinion it could have been managed better, the referee was very quick with his decision and I couldn’t understand why he didn’t consult his linesman. We all know Ross isn’t the type of player to elbow someone, I’ve seen the footage and the player’s reaction hasn’t helped matters.”

Matlock could consider appealing the decision but experience says that these types of decisions are rarely overturned and Hannah looks like facing a three game ban. He will, however, be eligible to feature in the home clash against Hyde United on Saturday but is expected to miss the trips to Nantwich on Tuesday, Warrington on Saturday week and the August Bank Holiday Monday home meeting with Gainsborough Trinity.

Now having got off the mark with a win, Matlock will be looking to build on Tuesday’s performance and result against a Hyde side who have surprisingly lost both of their opening games to Atherton Colleries and Bamber Bridge.

“It’s vital we kick on now” said Phillips.

“We’ve got Hyde on Saturday, they’ve been beaten twice but have some good players who’ll be keen to do what we’ve done against Basford. It’ll be another hard game.”

Matlock have made three signings during the past week with midfielder Lirak Hasani joining on a month’s youth loan from Doncaster Rovers, defender Jamie Sharman arriving following his recent release by Chesterfield and over the weekend, attacking midfielder Oli Greaves completing the treble.

Hasani (20) has been with Rovers since the age of eleven, working his way up to the first team squad. He was an unused substitute in Rovers’ Carabao Cup win at Walsall recently.

“Lirak can add creativity into our midfield and will be a good addition for us. He started at Ashton but the game seemed to pass him by a bit so we let him watch for himself from the sidelines on Tuesday to give him a better idea of what playing against a good NPL side’s all about” said Phillips.

“Jamie was on our list of targets and we’re delighted he’s signed, we needed another body in central defence. Oli was with Sheffield United as a youngster and has had a loan spell at Barrow before being at Dover last season. We feel he can help to open up the opposition as a number ten and again we’re delighted to have him with us.”

Ian Richardson