the npl

Weekly News - 30.3.22

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Weekly News - 30.3.22

Paul Phillips says his strike force have to start producing the goods after two 0-0 draws this week look to quashed their title aspirations with a play -off place looking to be the best they can hope for.

The Matlock boss says it was a good point at fourth placed Scarborough on Saturday but two points dropped against 20th placed Radcliffe at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night.

“We’d have been better off winning one and losing one, if we could have beaten Radcliffe then it would have been a very good point at Scarborough. It was a good point at Scarborough but there was no end product, and it was deja-vu against Radcliffe.

It’s now just one win in eleven for Matlock with the Gladiators having scored only once in their last five home matches.

With the transfer window now slammed shut., how does Phillips resolve the issue?

“You tell me” he said.

“No, we do it by our strikers being brave, being prepared to get themselves hurt in the penalty box, risking getting booted in the head, they have to have heart. The deliveries into the box have been good, our movement there hasn’t.”

Phillips says the lack of goals is putting more pressure on his defenders keeping a clean sheet.

“We had seven attacking players on at the end on Tuesday, but we’re asking our defenders to defend one on one, they make a mistake and we’ve lost because we aren’t putting the ball in the net at the other end. As a management team, we’ve done everything in our power to get a goal, we’ve changed shape, changed personnel. It’s a good job our defence is a solid unit for it’s got us to where we are..”

Matlock missed some excellent chances against Radcliffe.

“When you’re near the top people do their homework on you but we still created chances, I’d be worried if we weren’t. We’ve had shots kicked off the line, put high or wide and then Jez (Uchegbulam) had that one on one chance and then Ross (Hannah) should’ve put the rebound in. In a way though Perhaps we’d be better if we didn’t create chances and the ball hits someone on the backside and goes in!!”

Phillips added there are some positives to take from the week’s matches.

“That’s two clean sheets on the bounce. Adam Yates. Ryan Qualter and Ioan Evans have been absolutely magnificent with lads working their socks off in front of them. But we can’t keep on expecting these lads to pull us out of the mire. We’re still third top and not third bottom, there’s some doom and gloom about and I can totally understand people being frustrated. We’re in with a little shout of the league, the players are hurting in the dressing room when we don’t get then results we want, not like previous regimes.”

Matlock therefore have 65 points with leaders Buxton having 73 and South Shields 71 with five games left to play. Only the title winners are promoted automatically with the play-offs being contested by clubs in second down to fifth spot. Scarborough are one point behind Matlock but with a marked worse goal difference with fifth placed Warrington having 61 points.

Whitby’s last minute defeat at Stalybridge keeps them in sixth, six points adrift of the Gladiators who will know that preferably a victory or at the very least, avoiding defeat against seventh placed Morpeth Town at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday will do their play-off hopes no harm at all. The Highwaymen have 56 points with six games left.

“The Whitby result was great for us but as I’ve said before, and without wanting to sound like a broken record, we’ve got to do things for ourselves. It will be a tough game against a good Morpeth side who do score goals so we’re probably the underdogs on form at the moment. Their physicality shouldn’t bother us, we’ve enough strong lads in our changing room to be able to cope with it. When you look back though, not being able to beat Lancaster, Grantham, Atherton and Radcliffe here shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Osebi Abadaki injured a knee on late on in his second debut for Matlock at Scarborough and was forced out of the Radcliffe game after an impressive showing on the Yorkshire Coast. Fellow striker Reece Webb-Foster had a scan on his knee injury picked up in training and will be out for two to three weeks, midfielder Alex Wiles also being out for roughly a fortnight with ankle trouble. Callum Chippendale injured an arm in midweek and will need to be assessed and although Liam King took part in the warm up on Tuesday, Phillips says “we will play it by ear to see how things are.”

Abadaki was one of five new signings in deadline week. New Mills pair Benito Lowe and Darren McKnight have been brought in on a dual registration arrangement with the Millers and midfielder Danny Greenfield has arrived on loan from Gateshead, Then shortly before the 5 pm cut off point last Thursday afternoon, Matlock confirmed the signing of full back Adam Blakeley from Staveley Miners Welfare.

Ian Richardson