Weekly News - 8.3.23
Wayne Hallcro was a proud man as he stood in to see Matlock Town take a well earned point against runaway leaders and title favourites South Shields at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday.
With manager Martin Carruthers back at his Nottingham home with flu, Hallcro stepped up to take charge as a changed Gladiators side stood up defiantly to the much talked about South Shields attack and at the same time come within a lick of paint of snatching all three points themselves.
Tuesday’s scoreless draw came just two and a half weeks after Matlock had brought home another point from South Shields.
“We’ve raised our game twice and the two points we’ve got could easily have been six” said Hallcro.
“They (South Shields) could have as well, if anything I thought we had the better chances up there, here it was more half chances. But I was really proud of each and every one of them, we competed everywhere, we set a new high standard of effort, we were robust and we showed tremendous commitment.”
Hallcro was as disappointed as the majority of the 759 fans who had witnessed a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Ashton United last weekend. In a match where Matlock simply could not get going, Karl Demidh had pounced on a defensive error to nod the Gladiators into a 23rd minute lead, but Kielen Adams smashed in an equaliser on the hour.
But injuries to key players in Connor Dimaio, Dan Bradley and Karl Demidh and the late dismissal of Robbie McNicholas which saw Matlock finish the match with only nine men, gave the Gladiators management team the big headache.
Dimaio left the ground on crutches and Matlock currently anxiously await the results of a scan to ascertain the severity of his knee injury. Bradley was injured in his first game back while Demidh’s troublesome ankle injury flared up again. Demidh was only fit enough for a place on the bench against South Shields.
“What we were saying last week about looking forward to having a clean bill of health appears to have backfired on us. We had three missing on Tuesday and we feel in particular for Connor Dimaio who’s been a great addition to the squad, the lads really like him and he’s having a great impact on things. But Brad Abbott came back in and was outstanding on Tuesday, an absolute rock in there just two months after breaking his leg, I’m delighted with him and for him”.
“ We needed a reaction after the Ashton game and we definitely got one, hopefully the performance we put in against South Shields will kick us on. Saturday was very frustrating, recently we’ve got ourselves into positions to win games and I think over the past five games we ought to have got another six to nine points”.
Six more points would have been very useful for Matlock indeed as they now know that they need to gain wins rather than draws. The Gladiators are in eighth spot, three points outside a play off spot but the sides immediately above them, Marine, Gainsborough Trinity Bamber Bridge and Radcliffe have now played fewer games.
Matlock host Marine on Tuesday night and have to visit them on the season’s final day as well as hosting Bamber Bridge so wins in these games will certainly cut into that deficit.
But first the Gladiators visit a Whitby side on Saturday who have recovered from being relegation candidates in the early part of the campaign to move out of trouble with five victories and just two defeats in their last ten matches.
“We’ve got to a point now that we know what we’ve got to do. Our away performances and results have shown an improvement recently with the draw at South Shields and wins at Nantwich and Stalybridge so why can’t we go up to Whitby and come home with a win? All the games in this league are tough, there’s no gimmes at this level but we need to go there in a positive mood and start like we did at Stalybridge.”
Matlock look set to bring in a new striker before the weekend but they will be without McNicholas through suspension after last weekend’s red card.
“The lad we’ve signed will be another great addition, he’s got great pedigree and he knows where the net is. At the moment the ball’s coming back at us a bit too quickly so we need a big unit up front, we need that different dimension and this lad should fit that criteria” Hallcro added.
Carruthers is hoping to be back in circulation for the Whitby trip but Hallcro said that all the relevant preparations were made ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
“He wasn’t well at training on Monday so we did all the prep so he could deal with his man-flu, we spoke a few times on Tuesday to ensure things would be exactly as he wanted them, the point and the performance is for him.”