Matlock Town joint bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood say they have no regrets at making ten changes to their starting line up in their NPL Cup defeat to Basford United.
Basford won 9-8 on penalties after the 90 minutes had seen the sides share four goals.
Only Joe Doyle-Charles remained from the starting side beaten 2-1 at home by Workington at the weekend, a result which dented the Gladiators’ play off hopes as they slipped to eleventh in the table.
But if Matlock can rediscover their form of a month ago, the play-offs are not out of reach, and that was probably in the back of the joint managers’ minds as they pondered their League Cup line up.
“We have no regrets whatsoever, the Basford game was something like our 40th game so far this season and it’s not the end of January yet,” said Hopkins. “That’s possibly why we looked a little flat against Workington. You can’t keep playing the same 11 week in, week out.
“The players are only human, they have lives and work outside of football and I think it showed on Saturday, especially coming on the back of two really difficult cup games at Barrow and against Chesterfield.
“We’re both happy about making ten changes against a Basford side bursting to win.”
History was made as Harry Wood became the first player born after the millenium to play a first team game for the Gladiators. W
ood, whose father Andy played for Matlock under Ron Reid’s management 25 years ago, only turned sixteen a couple of weeks ago, and the Matlock supremos think he has a bright future.
Reflecting more on the Workington setback, Hopkins wondered whether the nearly tragic pre match incident in which the kick-off was delayed after a spectator had a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital affected his players.
He added: “It may have played some part but it’s not an excuse. We just wasn’t our normal selves.
“It’s the first time we’ve noticed the players flat in the dressing room,it’s just not like us.
“Then Joe (Doyle-Charles) was silly to get sent off, it didn’t make things any easier. The poor goal we gave away at the end probably summed up how we played.
“Apart from the first 15 minutes when we scored we were second best, we didn’t turn up against one of the better sides we’ve played, every single Workington player was up for it, they were obviously hurting after our two wins up there.”
Attention now turns to an even more difficult looking assignment at top of the table Blyth Spartans on Saturday, with both clubs having mutual admiration for one another.
Hopkins adeed: “They’re the best team in the league, how they never went up last season I’ll never know,never mind Robbie Dale and Sean Reid who are both brilliant, they have 11 great players, a great partisan home crowd but it’s these sort of games you want.”
Matlock should be at full strength apart from Doyle-Charles who begins a three match ban.
Curtis Morrison may make the starting line up after being a substitute against Workington twenty four hours after rejoining the Gladiators on laon from Chesterfield and then starting against Basford.