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Weekly News - 28/8/19

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Weekly News - 28/8/19

Steve Kittrick dared not have dreamt of a better start to his tenure in charge of Matlock Town.

Four games gone, a maximum points return and his team at the top of the BetVictor NPL Premier Division table.

Having gained 1-0 wins in their opening two matches at home to Bamber Bridge and at Basford United, the 1-0 trend continued at Stafford Rangers last Saturday, and for a long period it looked as if the home meeting with Gainsborough Trinity would have the same outcome. But an 83rd minute penalty saw Matlock concede for the first time this season before another victory was secured with a stoppage time own goal, the Gladiators having gone in front with another own goal after just ten minutes.

Kittrick is understandably delighted with the season so far but even after sixteen new signings, including those of defender Josh Lacey from Scarborough Athletic and Jordan Sinnott from Alfreton Town last Friday, he feels he needs to add to his squad in the forward area.

“We’re still a little light up front so I’m looking at a couple of strikers this week in training as we need to help Marshy (Marcus Marshall) and give him some support”

But he will also be aware that in both of their home games so far, the Gladiators could have won by more than the one solitary goal. “We played really well against Gainsborough. We went in front and then had the chances to put the game to bed, we could have been three or four up by half time. Gainsborough changed their system in the second half and for a while we struggled a bit but we still had three one on ones in the second half. We need to take our chances as you can get bitten on the bum as we did with the penalty for their goal. I’ve no arguments with the decision, it was a penalty, ,fair play to Gainsborough, but credit to our lads. We kept our shape, dug in and scored at the end. The win was well deserved and I think it would have been an injustice had Gainsborough got something from the game.

Man of the match against Trinity was winger Dan Bramall who gave full back Sam Topliss a torrid time and might have scored twice. Bramall was at Chesterfield’s academy as a youngster before moving to Everton who released him in the summer.

“Dan’s a good footballer who’s been at a top professional club and obviously learned a lot. It didn’t work out for him and he’s come here, we’ve put an arm around him and he’s got a smile back on his face” Kittrick added.

The Matlock boss was pleased with the commitment his side showed at Stafford where Marcus Marshall grabbed an 80th minute winner and goalkeeper Jon Stewart saved a penalty in stoppage time.

“We worked really hard at Stafford on a surface which wasn’t ideal and it was really hot, but everyone dug in and did well. It comes from having a good dressing room, the only frustrating thing was that we picked up a few injuries but that’s football at this level.”

Midfielder Luke Dean came off with a tight hamstring at Stafford and sat out the Gainsborough win but is expected to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Ashton United. Then on Tuesday night the Gladiators take on Grantham Town at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

The Tameside outfit are currently in bottom spot following their relegation from National League North at the end of last season but Kittrick expects a hard game at a ground where the Gladiators have a poor record.

“They’ve got some very good players I know well from the Conference North, they’ll click at some point so we know we’ll have to continue working hard as we’ve done so far. People ask if I’m surprised with what we’ve done so far. When I came I was unsure where we were and what was needed but we’ve got great team spirit and togetherness which carries you through on tough days. We’ve been resilient and the lads are starting to understand what I want. We’ve been resolute in defence, top draw, and we’ll need that to continue. The Grantham game will be a different challenge, they’ve started well so that’ll be another tough game for us”.

Tuesday’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round draw handed Matlock a home tie against Basford United which will take place at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday week (7 September). As draws go, it has to be labelled in the difficult category but at least the Gladiators have home advantage, but it is also disappointing for the fans who like to see their side face someone from a different division.

Matlock beat Basford 2-0 in Nottingham at this stage of the 2013/14 competition with Danny Holland and Lavelle White on the scoresheet.

Off the field Matlock have named Tony Knowles as Assistant Secretary. He has extensive secretarial experience at Hucknall Town and is a current committee member. As a boy he was team mascot for Matlock when they joined the Northern Premier League in 1969.
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Matlock Town has confirmed they will not be running a reserve side or any academy sides this season.

The Gladiators reserve team have tendered their resignation to the Central Midlands League which has been accepted.

Chief executive Keith Brown said there were numerous factors behind the decision, which he said was a difficult and painful one for the committee to make.

“One of the underlying factors affecting the reserves was the completion of the second-year students’ education at the end of May with the majority of them therefore no longer available for selection,” he said.

“The lack of volunteers to run the reserves was also a big problem. We made various requests for help, but unfortunately, there was no response.

“We also had to consider the condition of our pitch which, in spite of the best efforts of our groundsman Richard Lomas, and Dave Reynolds, worsened considerably during last season.”

Mr Brown also spoke about the academy, which was due to operate with just one team this season.

“We had 19 Eliteform students with us at the end of last season, all of who were due to commence their second season with us in September,” he said.

“However, there were certain factors outside the control of Eliteform and the football club, with 12 students being persuaded to join another club outside of the system.

“With a further two students departing it left us with only five students when a minimum of 16 is required. It was therefore impossible for our provider to allow the team to continue for 2019/20.

“We are disappointed as we believe the development of young players is a key issue for Matlock Town FC and the community in the Derbyshire Dales area.”

He added: “Matlock Town juniors play a key role in fielding 22 teams with three girls sides and a senior ladies team plus a Saturday soccer school.

“During the next two or three months we will be in discussion with various bodies to look at the possibility of finding a suitable league were with our U19s, U21s and reserve teams, players can develop for potential senior football. We will endeavour to give our senior ladies and senior junior teams the opportunity to play one or two of their fixtures at the Proctor Cars Stadium.”

Ian Richardson