In-form Matlock Town look ahead to a return home
Matlock's clash with play off chasing rivals Hednesford Town on Saturday is remarkably their first in the league at home on a Saturday since their 3-1 victory over Stourbridge back on September 10.
Remarkably also their last Saturday home match was back on October 1 when they drew with Workington in the FA Cup, so the Gladiators are keen to be back playing at home on a Saturday after a prolonged seven weeks gap.
“We hope our fans have not got out of the habit of a home game on a Saturday and turn out in force for what should be a very good game, the lads deserve it with the way they’re performing at the moment,” said joint boss Glenn Kirkwood.
Matlock are in seventh spot, three points behind the Pitmen but have played two fewer games.
Kirkwood said: “It’ll be a good game, they’re a good side. But we’re in good form so we’re looking forward to putting our wits against them with a good crowd in cheering us on.”
While Matlock rested a clutch of players in their midweek Integro League Cup win at Bedworth, Hednesford, under new boss Paul Casey were being beaten after extra-time in their local derby away at Stafford Rangers in their F A Trophy replay.
After Hednesford, Matlock travel to Barwell in the league on Tuesday night, having narrowly beaten the Canaries 2-1 at the DCJ Group Arena on November 1.
“We’re not looking that far ahead, all our efforts are going into Saturday and Hednesford, then we concentrate on Barwell,” Kirkwood insisted.
With two tricky league fixtures on the horizon, cup games are now on the backburner as far as Kirkwood and his fellow joint boss Craig Hopkins are concerned.
But having made FA Trophy progress at Grantham Town last weekend, to earn a lucrative home meeting with holders FC Halifax Town on Saturday week, Kirkwood could not resist a sneaky preview of the big cup game as well as reflecting on their two cup successes in the last week.
“I thought we were brilliant at Grantham, we worked so hard and stopped Grantham playing,” he said.
“To be honest reports on the game don’t do ourselves or Grantham justice.
“It was brilliant to get through, particularly after playing them just four days before so they knew all about us. Both goals were brilliant, almost identical from two great deliveries.
“But our workrate really impressed us, there was an instance on around 43 minutes when they broke on us from a corner but suddenly we had ten players behind the ball. We grafted and got our reward.”
Kirkwood is pleased with drawing Halifax,
“It’s a good draw, having the holders at home so again hopefully it’ll draw a big crowd and hopefully there’ll be an upset. They’re a massive club who’ll know quite a lot about us. We played them in pre-season (a 2-2 draw) and they’ve seen us quite a few times this season.”
There is extra spice in the tie against the Shaymen with two former Matlock skippers playing leading roles at the Conference North club. Billy Heath is the manager while their captain is Liam King.
Meanwhile at Bedworth in midweek, the Matlock joint bosses gave debuts to five players as they rang the changes against the Warwickshire side.
Latest signing Kevin Grocott slotted into midfield while four academy players , goalkeeper Jordan Pierrpont, Ben Edgson, Tom Savage and Jordan Lee all started. Savage scored a first half equaliser while his tutor and coach Jamie Yates netted a last gasp penalty to see Matlock progress.
“A few players got a much needed 90 minutes, lads that have been loyal to us but have not had much football through no fault of their own,” said Kirkwood.
“They’ve stuck with it and have all done well having had a good run out on a difficult 3G pitch. The four Academy lads have learned a lot and the pace of the game has surprised them. But also we’ve scored some lovely goals so we got out of it what we wanted.”
The draw for the Third Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup sees Matlock travel to divisional rivals Ilkeston FC on Tuesday December 6.