Matlock Town return to league action at second placed Nantwich Town on Saturday hoping to extend an unbeaten league run to eight matches.
But they again go into a tough game with a huge injury list presently standing at eleven players while up and coming striker Billy Whitehead is on holiday.
Of those eleven, manager Dave Frecklington says ten are definite non starters at the weekend while captain Adam Yates is rated at only 50/50 for a return.
Frecklington is clearly frustrated but says it’s a matter of getting on with things.
“I’m not going to harp on about injuries, every club has their fair share, it’s been well documented we have been hit hard, but we have to get on with it,” he said.
“But it’s very frustrating. Having gone into the Grantham match on a six match unbeaten run and then to get the result we got, confidence in the squad was sky high, we had got some momentum.
“But then we had three of our back four missing against St Neots and then you feel you’re back to square one. It’s unheard of to have so many players missing, but it does give opportunities to other players to step up.”
Opportunity therefore knocked for academy product Ashton Hall in central defence at St Neots, just a day shy of his eighteenth birthday. Hall put in an assured performance earning star rating.
“Apart from the goal he was excellent, it’s a learning curve for him which will benefit his career massively,” said Frecklington, who also named him in the side at Basford when Matlock had to take extreme measures to put out a side for the Integro League Cup tie.
Ethan Knowles (17) was handed a debut while sixteen years old Nathan Clarke was a used substitute and seventeen years old Alex Phillipson was also on the bench. Jordan Pierrepont replaced Ross Durrant in goal.
But the big story which went viral and made headlines nationally and internationally was the signing of 45 years old assistant manager Terry Fleming, who started the game in midfield.
Fleming’s last game was for Boston Town back in 2016 but he stood up to the plate with an assured performance lasting 69 minutes before Clarke, 29 years his junior, replaced him. Fleming had become Matlock’s eldest player to take part in a competitive game.
Frecklington was full of praise for both the youngsters and his assistant.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the academy players, they’ve trained really well with the first team and haven’t looked out of place.
“You can tell in the first training session whether they’re going to fit in and they’ve done so brilliantly.
“They’ve got all the attributes to compete plus the technical ability and all were a credit to the football club. It’s a big shout to Justin (Tellus) and Jamie (Yates) and all involved in the academy and reserves for their work which is outstanding.
“This is a fantastic asset for me, Terry and Chris (Rawlinson) to have. They also need the pathway into the first team, then it’s down to the individual to perform as and when they’re called upon.”