Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips keen for focus to return to topping the table

Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips says the FA Trophy is now firmly on the back burner with the number one objective being to collect maximum points from their next two league matches (writes Ian Richardson)

By Mark Duffy
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 9:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 9:48 am
Paul Phillips is keen to see Matlock's focus return to gaining league points.

Matlock saw off NPL Eastern Division table-toppers Marske United in their delayed second round clash at the Proctor Cars Stadium by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday evening after snow led to the match being postponed last Saturday.

That win, thanks to a brace from Alex Byrne plus a Reece Kendall header, earned the Gladiators a highly attractive home tie against National League North York City on December 18.

But last Saturday Bamber Bridge took advantage of Matlock, South Shields and Buxton not being in league action to take over at the top as a Neil Apter penalty with four minutes left saw them beat visiting Basford United 1-0.

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Matlock therefore dropped to second, a point behind Brig but with a game in hand.

Phillips says the focus is now on gaining wins at home to Stafford Rangers this Saturday and at Stalybridge Celtic seven days later.

He said: “We’ve got to put the Trophy to bed now and concentrate fully on getting wins again in the league. We need to start pushing on in the league and we need to be looking to get six more league points and then we can look at the York game.”

Phillips acknowledges the Stafford game will be difficult. Having been at the bottom of the table for the last two unfinished seasons, Rangers are having a much better season and currently lie in seventh spot. In September, Matlock were beaten 2-0 at Marston Road.

“We owe them one after the defeat down there. We know what they’re about and they use the long throw to good effect so we’ll have to be on the ball to combat that.

"Hopefully our pitch will be better than the one at Stafford but credit to them, they’re doing well and we need to be on our game. It’s a good opportunity for us with Buxton in the FA Cup.”

Callum Chippendale gained some minutes as a substitute against Marske with no adverse reaction.

Phillips can also add midfielders Luke Hall and Luke Daly plus forward Jamie Cooke to his squad for the Stafford game after they were unavailable on Tuesday.