the npl

Weekly News - 25/9/19

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Weekly News - 25/9/19

Steve Kittrick’s Matlock Town have hit a plateau after a great start which saw them win their first four games. The next four have brought just three draws and there was also an unexpected FA Cup defeat at home to Kidsgrove last Saturday.

The FA Cup defeat was a bitter blow for Matlock who understandably had high hopes of further progress against a side o below them in the non-league pyramid.

“When you look back on that game we had enough opportunities to put the game to bed. We’d gone in front and Dan( Bramall)should really have scored right at the start of the second half, We didn’t take our opportunities, Kidsgrove got some momentum and then the harder we tried the harder it got. Things like this happen in football. It was a bad day at the office, how many banana skins has there been in the FA Cup? We spoke beforehand of Colne beating South Shields, who would have expected that? I don’ t think it was complacency on our part, some of our players weren’t at it.”

Matlock were hoping for a return to winning ways when they hosted Atherton Colleries on Tuesday night but had to settle for a 1-1 draw after again going ahead. Marcus Marshall gave them an early lead, Atherton levelled from the sixth penalty conceded in ten games by Matlock this term before Piteu Crouz twice struck the post for Town before the interval. The second half was disappointing from the Matlock point of view as the free flowing football shown earlier disappeared with frustration mounting as Bramall was sent off for retaliation late on.

“A couple of people didn’t understand what was required,” said Kittrick.

“We had loads of chances, we hit the post twice but gave away a poor goal, another penalty. Dan needed to get himself set up better then, he was reactive rather than being proactive. That’s six penalties we’ve given away, it could be petulance but we can’t have it. That game would have fizzled out into a 1-0 win. Atherton aren’t a bad side though but I never read too much into Tuesday night performances or results as things can happen with players who’ve been working all day and may have had a bad day. The main thing was that we didn’t get beat.”

On the Bramall sending off, Kittrick put it down to frustration.

“He was frustrated with himself after giving away the penalty, he didn’t cope with it and it’s something he’ll need to get over and learn from. What’s done is done, he’s a young lad and he’ll get over it.”

Matlock now face two challenging trips to Whitby on Saturday and Nantwich Town on Tuesday.

The Seasiders lost the league leadership to South Shields on goal difference last weekend but still occupy second spot after eight successive league and cup wins while Nantwich are tucked in handily placed behind fifth placed Matlock who at least regained a play off spot with their draw on Tuesday thanks to Warrington’s home defeat to FC United of Manchester.

“We all want to win football games but we’ve eighteen or nineteen new players together. We set off well but have now hit a plateau. The thing now is to be positive and go up to Whitby and try to bring back three points and we’re quite capable of doing that. These are two massive away games where we’ll be doing our best to get something. The lads will put a shift in. Expectations are high at the club after our start. On Tuesday the players were disappointed thinking it was two points lost. If that’s how they feel then that’s good, I thought it was a useful point but having lads with that attitude and mentality bodes well for us.”

Matlock’s cup exit and Morpeth’s win at Bradford in the same competition means the Highwaymen will not be visiting the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday week as scheduled. The NPL look set to rearrange some fixtures and Matlock should be in line for a replacement fixture on that date.

Meanwhile Gladiators Chairman Tom Wright was full of praise for groundsman Dick Lomas and his assistant Rob Tucker whose non stop efforts allowed Tuesday’s Atherton game to go ahead.

“The rain was lashing down and at lunchtime it was extremely doubtful whether the game would be played with standing water on the pitch. The rain continued to pour but then the weather relented and Dick and Rob managed to clear the water. We had a referee in at 3.30pm and the pitch was wet but completely playable. Dick and Rob worked their socks off and I can’t praise them highly enough, it was a fantastic effort on their part considering also Mickleover’s game being off and other matches in the league being postponed. Despite it raining during the game, the pitch played really well. We’ve two great blokes who work really hard with Dave Reynolds on the pitch, they’re priceless” said Wright.

Unfortunately only 276 spectators attended the game, Matlock’s lowest home gate since the 2016/17 season.

Ian Richardson