the npl

Weekly News - 29.11.22

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Weekly News - 29.11.22

Matlock boss Craig Elliott pulled no punches as he reflected on Matlock’s heaviest league defeat for three and a half years, a 5-1 humbling at Bamber Bridge on Saturday.

“The realisation hit me that now I’ve got to build my own team, we were awful from the first minute until the last” he rapped.

“It was horrendous, one if not my lowest moment in football, for the first time in thirteen or fourteen years, I wanted the game to end with twenty or twenty five minutes left,”

Bamber were two goals in front inside twelve minutes and although John Johnston halved the deficit six minutes after the restart, by the 66th minute Bamber had struck three more times leaving Matlock in disarray.

It had not been the easiest of build-ups to the match for Matlock with goalkeeper Jim Pollard falling ill with Covid and the Gladiators had to move quickly to bring in a replacement, the loan signing of Luke Jackson from Sheffield Wednesday only being confirmed four hours before kick off.

Unfortunately a bad error from Jackson in only the 4th minute led to Bamber’s opener and it was the start of an afternoon to forget for the Gladiators.

“It was a nightmare build-up for both Luke and us with him not knowing if he was able to play until very late in the day. He’s not had many games and that early goal and the way it was conceded was a real shame but to be honest after that he did well for the rest of the game, given that mistake.”

Elliott admitted that he didn’t see the performance and the result coming.

“We’d had a good week at training there was no change in the line-up from the last league game so I was embarrassed. We were lucky to lose 5-1. We didn’t stamp any authority on the game, that was definitely not a Craig Elliott team, I like my teams to be organised and strong defensively.”

So Elliott looks likely to make alterations to his squad, the additions beginning late last week when striker Kieran Brown came in for an undisclosed fee from Kidsgrove Athletic. Brown’s first appearance was as a substitute midway through the second half.

“Kieran did really well , he runs and tries hard and he can be a handful as he showed. It’s always hard to get into a game when you come on at 4 or 5-1 down but he’s the type of player I like. I’m trying to get more players in for I think I’ve been more than patient. Alarm bells were ringing for me when we lost at Warrington Town but I gave the players the benefit of the doubt, but now it’s time for me to restructure the side the way I want it.”

Matlock face a couple of stiff tests during the next week as they host sixth placed Radcliffe on Saturday before attention turns to the 3rd Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup on

Tuesday night when National League North and old A6 rivals Buxton visit the Proctor Cars Stadium.

“Every game is a tough one in this league for as we know the league’s so tight. Look at Bamber Bridge, I was speaking to their gaffer and he said they’d had a rough two or three weeks. What you have to do is quickly get out of a slump, we’re back at home, our record at home’s pretty good so we need to use that and get back to winning ways. The Buxton tie is probably the toughest one we could have got, we know Buxton are well backed financially and have some good players, but we’ll be looking for there to be a good crowd in to back us.”

Elliott is hoping to add to his squad before Saturday but leaving the Proctor Cars Stadium is defender Sean Higgins.

“We’re releasing him, he’s missed a lot of training and when I spoke with him we both agreed things weren’t working out for him or the club so he goes with our best wishes” said Elliott.

Saturday’s game will kick off at 3 pm, Radcliffe having turned down a request from the Gladiators for a lunchtime start.

A new date has been fixed for the home match with South Shields, the Mariners making the trip down to Derbyshire on Tuesday 17 January (7.45 pm).

Ian Richardson