Spireites and Blades to do battle with Gladiators

Micky Harcourt of Matlock shields the ball from Jimmy Ryan and Jay O'Shay of Chesterfield in the pre-season battle last summer. The sides will meet again on July 14th.
Micky Harcourt of Matlock shields the ball from Jimmy Ryan and Jay O'Shay of Chesterfield in the pre-season battle last summer. The sides will meet again on July 14th.

Matlock Town have this week confirmed three more pre-season friendlies in preparation for the new Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division campaign which kicks off on Saturday, August 15th.

The now annual Autoworld Cup meeting with Chesterfield, beaten in the League One play off semi-finals by Preston North End and now managed by former Derby County and Wales striker Dean Saunders following Paul Cook’s departure to Portsmouth, has been slotted in for Tuesday, July 14th at the Autoworld Arena (7.45 pm).

It could be the first opportunity for many Spireites supporters to see their team in action under Saunders’ stewardship, and this popular fixture is again likely to attract a four figure crowd.

Another interesting home friendly sees Nigel Clough bring Sheffield United to town on Tuesday, July 28th (7.45 pm).

Clough regularly brought his Derby team to Matlock when he was in charge of the Rams and this time three United loanees who made priceless contributions to Matlock’s successful battle against relegation last term could be facing the Gladiators.

Striker Jamie McDonagh, man-of-the-match after netting a stunning hat-trick in the 7-0 Derbyshire Senior Cup final demolition of Gresley, winger Otis Khan and central defender Julian Banton have all had their contracts extended at Bramall Lane.

“This is really good news for Jamie, Otis and Julian who were magnificent for us last season and played a massive part in us staying up,” said Matlock chairman Tom Wright.

“Everyone at Matlock is delighted for the lads and we’d like to thank Sheffield United for the help they gave us and hope that the great relationship we’ve established with them will continue to prosper.”

Matlock’s third friendly is a visit to Worksop’s Sandy Lane to take on Northern Counties East League Cup winners Handsworth Parramore on Saturday, July 18th.

The Gladiators had already fixed up what will be their last friendly before the league season begins when they travel to Barnsley-based Shaw Lane Aquaforce, promoted to the Evo-Stik First Division South as NCEL champions, on Saturday August 8th.

Meanwhile, the Football Association have announced the constitution of the various leagues for the forthcoming season and it promises to be another competitive campaign for all clubs in the Evo-Stik League’s top tier.

Coming down from the Conference North are Hyde United and Colwyn Bay, whilst making the step up from the First Division North and South are Salford City, Darlington 1883, Mickleover Sports and Sutton Coldfield Town.

King’s Lynn Town have been transferred to the Southern League.

So the division’s 24 clubs are Ashton United, Barwell, Blyth Spartans, Buxton, Colwyn Bay, Darlington 1883, Frickley Athletic, Grantham Town, Halesowen Town, Hyde United, Ilkeston FC, Marine, Matlock Town, Mickleover Sports, Nantwich Town, Ramsbottom United, Rushall Olympic, Salford City, Skelmersdale United, Stamford, Stourbridge, Sutton Coldfield Town Whitby Town and Workington.