Matlock Town boss believes NPL Premier Division is the toughest it's ever been

The twists and turns in the NPL Premier Division title race continue with Matlock Town still in the mix despite a winless run stretching to five matches which have yielded only three points (writes Ian Richardson)

By Mark Duffy
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 9:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 12:12 pm
Paul Phillips says the NPL Premier is the toughest it's ever been in his time in management.
Paul Phillips says the NPL Premier is the toughest it's ever been in his time in management.

Leaders South Shields went down to an 88th minute winner from Ashton United on Tameside on Tuesday night so their lead over third placed Matlock is four points with the Gladiators having a game in hand.

Now Matlock head to Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday before returning to the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday hoping to do better than South Shields did against the Robins this week.

In spite of being down in 17th spot, Trinity have a good home league record with only Scarborough Athletic returning home with maximum points so far this season.

"It shows what a competitive, tough league this is, it's probably the toughest it's ever been," said Gladiators boss Paul Phillips.

"Gainsborough are on a decent little run, I like going there, it's a nice ground and a decent pitch. It'll be a tough game so we'll have to ensure we prepare right and assert ourselves on the day."

Ryan Qualter is expected to return after serving his three-game ban although the Gladiators will be without Jamie Sharman and Reece Kendall who both start two-match bans.

Phillips has called on the Matlock public to get behind his team in the remaining matches of the season.

He said: "We've had a blip but Buxton had one and South Shields would probably have not expected to lose against Mickleover and Ashton. If we'd have got six points instead of one against Lancaster and Grantham like a lot of people expected, we'd obviously be better off.

"But there's all to play for. We need to get the feel good factor again. We've had lots of good support away and we need everyone in the area to get behind this side and cheer the lads on.

"With success, expectation levels rise, we perhaps need to take a reality check as we're well in there alongside the so-called bigger clubs in the hardest NPL I've known.

"We're going to get disappointments, but let's have good crowds and everyone getting behind the lads. We're still very much in the hunt."