Cup games are dominating Matlock Town’s fixture list at present as they are in the middle of a run of three successive matches in knockout competitions.
The run began with the Gladiators’ 2-1 Buildbase FA Trophy victory at Carlton Town last Wednesday which earned them a home clash with fellow BetVictor NPL Premier Division side Ashton United this coming Saturday.
Their scheduled league trip to Mickleover Sports last Saturday was called off in mid-morning with the Sports pitch waterlogged, so attention then turned to their Derbyshire Senior Cup last 16 tie at Borrowash Victoria on Wednesday (6th)
But that was called off at lunchtime due to the condition of the Vics pitch and will be played on either this coming Tuesday or Wednesday, with supporters being asked to check the club’s various social media outlets and website for confirmation.
This means the long delayed Integro NPL Cup game at Belper Town, originally rearranged for this coming Tuesday, will be slotted in at a later date. If the Ashton FA Trophy game goes to a replay, then the Borrowash match will be delayed until probably the following midweek, as the Gladiators would be travelling to Hurst Cross on Tuesday.
Manager Steve Kittrick says that the bread and butter league games take priority but stressed also that the FA Trophy is an important competition for clubs like Matlock.
“The league is always our main priority for that’s what you’re judged on over a season but cup games do have their significance as you get the chance to see how one or two of your fringe players perform in a match situation," he said.
"The FA Trophy’s a good competition which we want to do well in and progress as far as we can, there’s the prize money which is useful, and of course, the prestige and winning games and getting through a few rounds gives everyone around the place a good feeling.”
But Matlock do not have the biggest of squads now as this week, full-back Josh Lacey departed to join Cleethorpes Town . Lacey only arrived at Matlock in August having previously played under Kittrick at Scarborough Athletic who released him during the summer.
Kittrick said: “I’m not surprised he’s opted to go to Cleethorpes as it’s only 20 minutes away from where he lives. Matlock was always a long haul for Josh and also for James Williamson (who has recently left to join Tadcaster Albion). Josh says he hasn’t performed as well as he can so with him wanting to go and the circumstances , there was no point in holding on to him and he goes with our best wishes.”
Striker Chib Chilaka and winger Piteu Crouz will be back in contention at the weekend after missing the Carlton victory through unavailability and suspension respectively. Dan Bramall was forced off with a knock at Carlton but had recovered by Saturday.
Kittrick used the free afternoon to watch Ashton win 2-1 at Buxton and he was at the Silverlands again on Tuesday night as Belper Town’s 2-0 victory saw Buxton knocked out of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Kittrick believes that Ashton are a better side than their current 17th position suggests and Matlock had to battle hard for their 1-1 draw at Ashton at the end of August, a result which ended the Gladiators’ 100 per cent start to the season at the fifth time of asking.
He said: “Ashton were the better team by a long way, they’ve got some good players. Josh Wilson was with me at both Telford and Guiseley, Nicky Clee’s a good experienced player and they’ve got a good sprinkling of Conference North players who’ve been around a lot and are well paid at Ashton. They’re an organised side, but if we can play for 90 minutes instead of for spells during games, we’ll be alright.”
That last comment is significant as the Gladiators have not put in a consistent 90 minute performance since the 3-0 win at Whitby Town at the end of September.
Kittrick added: “They’ve got to get into that 90 minute mindset, good players don’t become bad players during a game. Take the Carlton game, we were excellent in the first half and deservedly comfortably in front but we weren’t the same side in the second half.
"But we got through and that’s the main thing. We’ve got to deal with what the opposition do during their purple patch better and look to be putting in that 90 minute performance or get as close to it as we can. We’ve got to be positive, Saturday is the FA Trophy and it’s a big game for the club.”