the npl

Weekly News - 18/9/19

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Weekly News - 18/9/19

“If South Shields are the benchmark for this league, I don’t think we’re too far away.”

That was the reaction of Matlock Town boss Steve Kittrick following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by South Shields, the first under his tenure, and attention is now fully focused on making FA Cup progress at home to Kidsgrove Athletic this weekend.

Kittrick was initially disappointed with the display against Shields, saying five or six of his players were out of sorts and didn’t perform, which given the quality of the opposition, severely lessened Matlock’s chances of beating one of the favourites for the BetVictor NPL title.

But the message from the Gladiators camp is to quickly put that performance and result to bed and to move on.

“The lads didn’t do themselves justice but in training we haven’t made too much about it. You get those sorts of days and games in a season don’t you? To put it into context South Shields fans were saying it’s the best they’ve played this season and the fact that they went 5-4-1 for the last twenty minutes, at 2-0 up, speaks volumes of the respect they had for us. I felt we could have dealt better with their first goal and looking at the video footage it was a soft penalty for their second. If South Shields are the benchmark for this league, then we’re not a million miles away. It wasn’t a 5 or 6 nil, it was 2-1. There are some good sides in this league, Shields, Warrington, Basford, Hyde. Shields have the split full time situation. On the day they were better than us, we’ve got to put the day behind us and concentrate on getting the right result in the FA Cup on Saturday.”

Kidsgrove ply their trade one tier below Matlock in the BetVictor NPL South East Division, having beaten divisional rivals Newcastle Town and Cleethorpes Town to reach this stage. Matlock have played just the one FA Cup tie this season, beating Basford United a fortnight ago.

“The FA Cup’s everybody’s cup final and if you treat any game lightly you’re likely to get your fingers burnt” Kittrick warned.

“We treat everyone with the same respect, we’re at home and need to perform. We’ve had Kidsgrove watched and hopefully our game plan will be enough to win the game. It’s all about the day, there can be massive upsets, we’ve just been talking about South Shields, who would have thought they would have gone out to Colne?”

Midfielders Luke Dean and Nathan Whitehead will miss out again through injury while a check will be made on Dwayne Wiley who played on Saturday with a broken hand, protected by a cast.

If Wiley is out, club captain Adam Yates is likely to deputise in central defence with new signing Bailey Gooda being cup tied having played for Hyde United in the last round at Morpeth.

Gooda (22) played under Kittrick for Scarborough Athletic and joins Dean, James Williamson and Josh Lacey as former Scarborough players at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

“Bailey’s a very good player, a good centre half and with Dwayne’s injury and James Williamson on four bookings I felt we needed cover. When an opportunity like this comes up to improve the side, we’ll do it.”

Matlock also extended the loan of winger Scott Smith from Guiseley on the eve of the South Shields defeat.

“Scott’s twenty years old, he’s done well so it was an easy decision to make to keep him on. Guiseley have also allowed him to play in the FA Cup so a big thank you to Guiseley and it’s another part of the jigsaw.”

Kittrick agrees with many fans who believe another striker would be handy, but he also explained that the system he plays does not warrant two in attack.

“I don’t disagree with the fans and we were close to getting someone from a Conference North club on loan but he chose to go somewhere else for his development and where he’d be guaranteed to play. Luke Hinsley’s not done bad when he’s come on but the system we play doesn’t warrant two down the middle. We’ve lost one in eight so there’s no reason to panic and to change a system. There’s a saying if it’s not broke then don’t fix it. ”

Matlock are at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night with a first ever league meeting against Atherton Colleries provided that the Kidsgrove cup clash does not finish all square. If a replay is necessary it will be at Kidsgrove on Monday night(7.45pm). Matlock won 2-1 at this same stage of the competition in Staffordshire three years ago and went on to reach the 4th Qualifying Round before losing 3-1 at Altrincham.

There is a special charity game at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Sunday afternoon with all proceeds going to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield. The game celebrates the life of life long Matlock fan Daniel Griffiths who passed away during the pre season and was being treated at Weston Park. Refreshments will be available, the Shorts Lounge is open and there will be a raffle plus entertainment in the Social Club afterwards to raise funds for the cancer charity.

“Cancer affects virtually all of us at some point in our lives so we hope that a lot of people come down and support this event, enjoy themselves and celebrate Dan’s life. Dan’s close friend Craig Cantrill and others have worked tirelessly to stage the event so please support it” said a Matlock spokesman.

Ian Richardson