Matlock Town face injury problems ahead of crucial Easter weekend

Injuries are plaguing Matlock Town ahead of the Easter programme when the Gladiators hope to confirm their place in the NPL Premier Division play-offs (writes Ian Richardson)

By Mark Duffy
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 10:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 10:56 am

There are just three games remaining in the regular 2021/22 campaign and Matlock need three more points to be assured of extending their season by one and hopefully two more matches.

The Easter games see them host Nantwich Town on Saturday before the big A6 derby at current leaders and championship favourites Buxton on Easter Monday.

But they could have as many as six players out with captain Liam Hughes and Callum Chippendale both rated as 50/50 for Saturday to add to the already injured trio of midfielders Alex Wiles and Liam King plus striker Reece Webb-Foster.

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Callum Chippendale is among those rated 50/50 for the weekend game with Nantwich.

And there’ll be a change of goalkeeper for the Nantwich clash with Joe Young being ruled out with concussion following a clash in the dying seconds of Saturday’s 1-0 win at Basford United.

For good measure, defensive kingpin Ryan Qualter battled through the 90 minutes last weekend with a back injury having not trained during the week and put in a top class performance as the Gladiators kept a fourth clean sheet in succession.

Boss Paul Phillips said: “We won’t use injuries as an excuse but we’re not having the best of luck with them at the moment.

“Joe’s been great for us in goal, he’ll not make it for Saturday but hopefully he’ll be alright for Monday. Paul Cooper’s been out and had a couple of games and he’ll have his chance on Saturday.

"Liam Hughes’ knee has ballooned up so we’ll need to see how he is and Chippy (Callum Chippendale) missed the game on Saturday with an abductor injury he got against Morpeth.”

Phillips praised Qualter, adding: “He typifies what we are as a team and squad, he’d not trained.

"He doesn’t want to miss games so he’s resting at present, doing his own thing so hopefully he’ll be okay to play.

"He put in a tremendous performance playing through the pain barrier and it shows how much the club means to him.”

Phillips knows Matlock Town face a tough task if they’re to confirm their place in the play-offs against Nantwich Town on Saturday.

The Dabbers have shown much better form recently after surprisingly being near the bottom a few weeks ago and currently occupy 15th spot.

So Phillips is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “We always seem to be playing teams on a good run at the moment. Scarborough, Morpeth and Ashton were all on good runs when we played them and it’s the same with Nantwich. They’re a good team with a good manager and have players who’ve been there and done it at the top of the league. We know how they’ll play so it’s up to us to put our own stamp on the game.”

Gladiators fans have been starved of goals recently, particularly at the Proctor Cars Stadium with just three attempts finding the opponents’ net in the last eight home outings. That is something Matlock need to put right.

Phillips said: “It’s not been good enough even though we’ve created a lot of chances. We’ve not had the rub of the green with both Radcliffe’s keeper and the Morpeth keeper being man of the match in the last two games.

"But it’s not all down to luck and that’s probably why we’re not still in the title race. Good strikers cost money but we’re already putting feelers out to try and get that man who’ll get 15/20 goals a season for next year no matter which league we’re in.”

Phillips was reluctant to talk too much about the visit to Buxton, aware that the next game is always the most important, but he says it is a game everyone should be looking forward to.

He said: “I wish I was ten or 15 years younger and could still play in a game like that, it’s what football is all about with a crowd in the region of 2,000 probably expected.

"It’ll be a hard game, they need to win for their own reasons, we want to win for ours. They’re a very good team with probably the biggest budget in the league and chairman Dave Hopkins has done a tremendous job in getting their infrastructure right.”

Buxton have made the game all ticket and Matlock fans can purchase theirs from the Gladiators club shop on Saturday with cash only payments being accepted. Ticket prices are £10 for adults, £6 concessions and £2 under-16s.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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