Matlock Town FC: Mercury Review of 2016

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The New Year looks a whole lot brighter for Matlock Town as they maintain a title chase in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division a season after avoiding relegation.

The Gladiators are also enjoying cup success with a mouthwatering Buildbase FA Trophy tie away to Conference National high-flyers Barrow to look forward to on 14th January after an incredible 2-1 win at another Conference National side, Solihull Moors, in the last round.

Matlock are also into the quarter-finals of the Derbyshire Senior Cup and face Chesterfield at home.

Matlock ended the 2015/16 season in 17th place just seven points off the drop, a campaign which saw the end of manager Mark Hume.

But now the Gladiators are flying high, winning their last five games in all competitions, and sit fifth in the table, just six points behind leaders Rushall Olympic with three games in hand.

Another major boost for their 2017 ambitions last week was the news that top scorer Marcus Dinanga will remain a Gladiator for the remainder of the season.

The 18-year-old has already notched 18 league and cup goals since arriving at the DCJ group Arena on loan from Burton Albion, and he has quickly become a fans favourite.

Matlock have also added pacy striker Anthony Dwyer, 20, to their ranks after the ex-Mansfield Town player agreed to sign from from Stafford Rangers.

The first half of 2016 provided much worry at Causeway Lane as a bad run of results left the spectre of relegation hanging over them.

After losing seven on the trot, it too an unbeaten three match run in April to ease the anxiety as that meant Matlock would have to lose all of their last four matches and Hyde United collect maximum points.

A 3-0 win at Ramsbottom then sealed safety before Matlock ended a poor season on a low with three defeats.

That meant they had only won twice in 16 since Christmas, both against the relegated bottom club, and the club’s committee decided to show boss Hume the door.

Within a week the appointments of Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins as joint managers were announced and well received, the pair both being former crowd favourites as players in successful and entertaining Matlock teams of a decade previous.

The Chesterfield-based duo had their first taste of management by taking charge of Matlock Town’s reserve side and a short spell as joint caretaker managers of the first team in the 2008/09 season.

Successful spells at Heanor Town and Mickleover Sports followed and now they are back weaving their magic at Causeway Lane.

Kirkwood said: “It is the perfect job, impossible to turn down. We want to give the people of Matlock a club they can be proud of.”

Their first three games failed to field a win, but Matlock have since soared and along with the win over Solihull, also beat FC Halifax Town in their Trophy run.

But, before the big game at Barrow, concentration is needed this Saturday when bottom of the table Corby Town are the visitors.