the npl

Weekly News - 8.12.21

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Weekly News - 8.12.21

Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips put Matlock Town’s home defeat to Stafford Rangers on Saturday down to individual mistakes rather than a collective below par performance.

In horrendous conditions, Matlock were twice in front through goals from Liam King and Alex Byrne, but Rangers made the most of the second half conditions to reply with two goals, one a disputed penalty and then survive an extremely dubious offside decision when Ross Hannah thought he had headed Matlock level.

So Matlock spurned the opportunity of going two points clear at the top with Buxton in FA Cup action and the weather accounting for the postponement of Bamber Bridge’s visit to Radcliffe and South Shields’ clash at Ashton United.

It was the Gladiators’ third successive home defeat in the league after winning their opening seven, South Shields and Whitby Town also going home with maximum points, although there have been FA Trophy wins over Rushden & Diamonds and Marske United during this spell.

“Teams will always have a blip. Yes we’ve lost three games at home but we’ve probably played better in some of those games that when we’ve gone away and won” said Phillips.

“The problem we’ve had is not putting the ball in the net and conceding silly goals. The conditions were awful on Saturday but it’s the same for both sides. When I look back to our opening game up at Ashton, we probably had seven or eight players who were off it, this time it was one, two, possibly three who didn’t have great games. The subs we made were to get us to kick on and win the game.”

“Against South Shields they (Shields) had probably 60 per cent of the game and got their goal then we had chances late on to get something from it. The Whitby and Stafford defeats came down to individual errors, it’s not a group thing.”

So Matlock now find themselves in third position ahead of their visit to Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday. Buxton went top on Tuesday following an emphatic 5-1 home win against Scarborough Athletic.

“We may be third but Buxton could have been seven or eight points clear of us with their games in hand. In this league there are troughs and spurts. Four points from our last five games isn’t great but we’re still up there and it shows the standards this football club have moved to. We have forty points from twenty games and I’m sure most people would have accepted that before a ball was kicked. We talk about the likes of Buxton, South Shields, Bamber Bridge. But the important thing for me is that we get our own house in order. It’s up to me to make sure that happens. If we keep winning games we’ll have a good chance of winning the league. Alternating between league and cup doesn’t help things but we can’t blame our results on that .”

Phillips said he shoulders the blame for the Stafford defeat.

“I blame myself, I kept faith with some players who had done okay in previous games when really I should have altered it. I’m not going to stand still if players aren’t up to it. Liam Hughes let himself down afterwards by getting sent off, it was down to ill-discipline, however bad you think a referee is, you’re not going to win. Earlier in the season when he was out we won four on the trot with Jerome(Greaves) up front and I’ve told him he might have a fight on his hands to get back in.”

Hughes will therefore miss the Stalybridge game when Phillips expects to have a new goalkeeper in the squad. There could be changes to the line up although not wholesale ones.

“Unfortunately Coops hasn’t concreted his place in the squad and like I say, I’m not going to stand still” added Phillips.

On loan midfielder Jamie Cooke has returned to parent club FC Halifax.

“We wanted to extend the deal but unfortunately they wouldn’t let him play in the FA Trophy so it’s also down to finance and it not being fair on the other players in the squad. He’s a very good player who’s done very well for us and we wish him all the best in the future.”

Ian Richardson