the npl

Weekly News - 27.4.22

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Weekly News - 27.4.22

Matlock boss Paul Phillips was brutally honest in his assessment of the Gladiators season and their play off semi final defeat at Scarborough Athletic on Tuesday night.

A 2-0 home win over Warrington Town last Saturday gave them a fourth placed finish and a trip to the coast to play the third placed Seadogs.

But Matlock lost 2-1 in their first play off appearance in fifteen years, and it was also exactly 47 years to the day they had beaten Scarborough 4-0 in the 1975 FA Trophy Final at Wembley.

But that last statistic did not prove to be a happy omen, Scarborough built up a 2-0 lead through Ash Jackson’s piledriver and a Luca Colville back heel before deep into stoppage time, Liam Hughes responded but by then the damage had been done.

“We’ve come up short, that’s why we’ve not won the league or won in the play-offs. If you don’t score goals when you have the chance you’re going to invite the opposition to take the game out of your hands” rapped a hugely disappointed Phillips.

He had been greatly impressed by the win over Warrington.

“On Saturday we were the opposite, we kept on the front foot and took our chances scoring two really good goals. But we couldn’t do that at Scarborough. To be fair on Tuesday we were in the ascendancy from the off, we were getting in behind them but I must sound like a broken record, you have to take your chances. I’m getting blue in the face saying this. Good teams score goals when they’re playing well. Too often the onus is on us to keep a clean sheet and that’s something we or I’ve got to look at.”

Matlock appeared to run out of legs in the second half when they were under incessant pressure.

“We weren’t brave enough and didn’t get started in the second half. Because lads stopped doing what they had been doing, we were having to rely on those at the back. The first goal was a worldie admittedly but we shouldn’t have allowed their lad to have three touches to set himself up just outside our box. We looked weak in the second half, we didn’t win enough first and second balls.”

So not having an out and out goalscorer has been Matlock’s achilles heel.

“If we have a twenty goal a season man, we win the league, we haven’t got one and that’s down to me.”

When the dust settles after a few days, Matlock can reflect on a good season with their fourth placed finish. It could and should have been much better given they led the table for a good portion of the campaign and Phillips could not hide his frustration.

“We’ve not achieved anything, we’ve limped into the play-offs, we should at least have been playing at home, but we’ve not done the job and we’ve been forced to go to Scarborough.”

Matlock will, want to make even more progress next season.

“It can go one of two ways, we can come back stronger and go again or we can go into the new season with a hangover. I know which way I want to go. I don’t want this season to be a flash in the pan and fall back to where we were. It’s been a long season after Covid and everyone needs to go away and ensure we keep on progressing. Team spirit here is second to none, when I came in there was no foundations but we’ve got lads in who throw their bodies on the line but we can’t rely on the same lads week in, week out.”

Ian Richardson