the npl

Weekly News - 4/9/19

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Weekly News - 4/9/19

The 100 per cent start is over for Matlock Town but six games in they are the only unbeaten side in the BetVictor NPL Premier Division and are still top of the league.

A 1-1 draw at Ashton United last weekend was followed by high drama at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night when the Gladiators trailed Grantham Town 2-0 with four minutes left but rallied to save a point through an own goal and a late, late header from substitute Luke Hinsley.

Kittrick was not altogether satisfied with Tuesday’s performance but delighted with the fightback.

“Grantham got beat 4-0 on Saturday so came here with a point to prove. We knew how they’d play, back to front very quickly. We’ve given away two poor goals which is unlike us, it can happen but it’s disappointing as we need to keep our standards up. I think we got dragged into how they play. We spoke about it at half time, if we could play our own game we’d be better. It was a lively second half, we were in and out of it but we’ve got young lads that are still to learn this level of football.”

Matlock’s luck appeared to be out as they struck the woodwork no fewer than three times.

“It didn’t look as if it was going to happen for us but you never say never, football’s a funny game. The massive plus from the game is our character. The first and last ten minutes can win you games, the substitutes worked for us.”

Ashton lay at the foot of the table prior to Matlock’s visit but the hosts belied their position and look as if they will soon start climbing the table. After falling behind to a first-half penalty, Marcus Marshall’s 65th-minute header earned Town their point.

“We had three midfield players missing at Ashton, we had to play a full back in there which made it difficult for us. Spencer Harris came in and did well. We had plenty of chances as we did on Tuesday, we’ve got to learn to be ruthless. Ashton are a good side, they have some lads who’ve been with me in the Conference, they just need that first win. As for us, if you’d said we’d be on top with fourteen points from six games and be unbeaten, I’d have bitten your hand off!”

“In midweek you can get different players to what you get on a Saturday” Kittrick went on.

“Some might have had a heavy, stressful or difficult day at work, there are also family concerns and it can affect different people in different ways We knew Grantham would get a reaction from their players after Saturday, they got one that’s for sure but so did we late on.”

Matlock now has competition in most positions, the loan acquisition of striker Luke Rawson from Chesterfield last week strengthening Matlock’s hand.

“Competition, like we’ve got, is healthy, and there are not as many people going in to see physio Mark Mullins” added Kittrick.

Attention now switches to the FA Cup on Saturday with Matlock at home to fellow BetVictor NPL Premier Division side Basford United, followed by a return to Scarborough Athletic on Tuesday for the likes of Kittrick, Luke Dean, Josh Lacy and James Williamson.

If Matlock can progress on Saturday they will pick up prize money of £4500 as opposed to a third of that figure if they are eliminated.

“The FA Cup’s big for every club at this level, the rewards can be fantastic. Basford are a good side who’ll probably feel they owe us one but I’m expecting a good game between two sides who’ll go for it” said Kittrick who returns to the club he managed before checking in at Matlock on Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to going back there for the right reasons, the main one is trying to get three points for Matlock Town. There’s a great set of people at Scarborough, I've got a lot of friends there so I’m looking forward to going back there in a positive way.”

The Scarborough visit depends on both Matlock and the Seadogs not drawing their FA Cup ties this weekend. Scarborough faces First Division North West outfit Marske United.

A draw against Basford will mean a Monday night replay in Nottingham.

Defender Jordan Cooke has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent and he has returned to former club Stamford in search of regular first-team football.

Matlock will travel to Belper Town in the 1st Round of the Integro NPL Cup on Tuesday 17 September.

Ian Richardson