Response to unlucky FA Cup exit thrills joint managers

Matlock Town v Heanor (white), Niall McManus

Matlock Town v Heanor (white), Niall McManus

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Craig Hopkins and fellow joint boss Glenn Kirkwood were thrilled with Matlock’s response in their 3-0 league victory at Halesowen on Tuesday night, writes Ian Richardson.

A return to league action came just three days after their unlucky FA Cup defeat to Altrincham on Saturday when Kirkwood admitted it felt like “it was the end of the world”.

They exited the prestigious competition at the fourth qualifying round stage after a 3-1 defeat at Altrincham, despite creating plenty of chances throughout the tie.

Niall McManus had put the Gladiators ahead but goals from Damian Reeves and a brace from Sean Miller for the National League North side put an end to Matlock’s FA Cup hopes, in front of 1,071.

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But any thoughts the management and players would be feeling sorry for themselves were quickly dispelled at The Grove. A Marcus Dinanga brace and a late third from Marc Newsham, all in the second half, saw the Gladiators pick up maximum points - and score three times in two successive away matches.

“The result was so disappointing on Saturday but not the effort everyone put in, our lads gave everything,” said Hopkins. “The difference was in the quality of the finishing. On the day we couldn’t stick the ball in the back of the net but there was no lack of effort from all our boys.”

Hopkins added that he could sense a good reaction at Halesowen from the Matlock players to Saturday’s defeat.

“We could still see the disappointment the lads felt about Saturday, it hurts, we all wanted it so much, but these lads have character and were bursting to get the three points at Halesowen,” he said.

“It was a fantastic performance given the travelling and traffic in rush hour not making it an easy place to get to. Some of the lads didn’t arrive until 7pm, perhaps explaining why we were on the receiving end early on. But when we settled we looked organised, we worked very hard and then showed quality in front of goal.

“Marcus (Dinanga) got two great goals, he couldn’t have struck his second one better before showing great presence of mind for the third one when he might easily have got his hat-trick, passing across to Curtis (Morrison) and then Marc Newsham to apply the finish. The lads are buzzing.”

Matlock are on their travels again at the weekend with a trip to Marine.

“We’ll go there and give it all we’ve got,” said Hopkins.

“We know they’re a good side particularly on their home patch, we know to expect a physical game but we’re looking for the three points once again.We’ll always create chances by the way we play as three goals in each of our last two away league games shows.”

The Gladiators await news on defender Dwayne Wiley’s fitness after picking up a knee injury which forced him off at Altrincham. Ted Cribley should return to the squad after a sickness and diahorrea bug. Meanwhile Laurie Wilson has left the club.