Matlock Town targeting play-off push

Matlock Town v Corby, joint manager Glenn Kirkwood
Matlock Town v Corby, joint manager Glenn Kirkwood

Matlock Town are stepping up their push for an end-of-season play-off place as the distraction of cup final dies away.

Both of their next two league games fall into the difficult category with improving Workington due at the DCJ Group Arena on Saturday before a visit to current league leaders Blyth Spartans follows seven days later.

The Gladiators and the Reds will be meeting for the fourth time this season. Last October they faced each other three times in a week.

A 1-1 draw in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup meant a midweek replay at Borough Park which Matlock won 3-1 before the Gladiators won by exactly the same score in the league clash there on the following Saturday.

Workington have moved above Matlock after their 4-1 home win over Mickleover while Matlock were edged out of the FA Trophy just down the road at Conference National Barrow.

The Reds result last weekend coupled with scores elsewhere then and on Tuesday night has meant Matlock have dropped to ninth, but still handily placed for a shot at the play-offs. Workington are seventh, two points ahead of Matlock but the Gladiators have played four fewer games.

Joint boss Glenn Kirkwood knows his side will have to be on their guard.

He said: “Even with those results last October Workington weren’t a bad side so we know it’ll be a mega tough game on Saturday but it’s about us.

“We’ve proved we’re capable of playing good football and winning football games against good sides so we’re looking forward to the game.

“Nico Degirolamo came off on Tuesday as a precaution with a knock on his ankle, everyone though should be fit to face a good Workington side and we’ll give them the respect they deserve.”

Matlock very nearly pulled off another huge FA Trophy upset as they led 2-0 at Barrow with 25 minutes left only for the Bluebirds to shatter their dreams of more glory with three goals in eight minutes to scrape home.

“It was always going to be a tough ask,” Kirkwood admitted, “They’re two leagues higher, flying high, a big, strong physical team.

“But I thought our lads equipped themselves absolutely magnificently. We thoroughly deserved our 2-0 lead and we were unlucky to not be three or four goals in front. You could say our second goal woke the dog up, they chucked everything at us.

“It wasn’t good play that beat us, two of the goals came from knock downs that fell nicely for them, but it came off so fair play to them for that. At 3-2 down though we never stopped playing and probing, unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

“Me, Hoppo (Craig Hopkins) and the staff are really proud of them as the fans should be, We’re bitterly disappointed, it’s taken a few days to get over it but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve had a great run, some great games, ones we all want to be involved in.

Thanks also to our fans, it was a magnificent turnout from them given how far they had to travel, their support was excellent.”