Football edges closer as Spireites game is moved

Oscar Radford outjumps Liam Cooper in the pre-season friendly between Matlock and Chesterfield last year.
Oscar Radford outjumps Liam Cooper in the pre-season friendly between Matlock and Chesterfield last year.

The annual Autoworld Cup game between Matlock Town and Chesterfield has been brought forward five days following a change to the Spireites’ pre-season plans.

Dean Saunders’ men will now visit the Autoworld Arena next Thursday, July 9th (7.45 pm) instead of on the original date of July 14th.

Chesterfield are now going abroad this Sunday but remain keen to take on their Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division neighbours with the fixture being popular with both clubs’ fans.

The Gladiators do not return for pre-season training until Saturday, and although the rescheduled match is earlier than previously arranged leaving precious little time for them to prepare, their chairman Tom Wright says the new date may well work in Matlock’s favour.

He said: “Having spoken at length with Chesterfield they made it clear that they wanted us to be their first fixture so we could get a better crowd.

“With decent weather and given how much fans of both sides enjoy this match, we’re hoping for a bumper attendance.”

Four-figure gates are the norm for this fixture and a big crowd appears likely again with Chesterfield expected to bring their first team squad across the A632 with the added spice of it being Saunders’ first game in charge of his new club since replacing Paul Cook in the hot seat during the summer.

With a trophy at stake there is also a competitive edge and Matlock will be trying to end Chesterfield’s dominance of recent years.

“Again we’d like to thank everyone at Chesterfield for their help in arranging the game and wish them well for the new season. We have a tremendous relationship with them and long may it continue,” added Wright.

Meanwhile, another fixture has been added to Matlock’s pre-season schedule with a home meeting against Belper Town on Tuesday, July 21st (7.30 pm).

The two local rivals met in league derbies for the first time in 11 seasons last term when Matlock took four of the six points on offer as the Nailers finished bottom of the table to make a hasty return to the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South.

Matlock will find out their opponents in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy tomorrow (Friday) when the Football Association release the draws for the early stages of each competition.

Mark Hume’s men enter both cups at the first qualifying round stage and will be keen to improve on their poor results last season when Ilkeston and Halesowen Town dumped them out at the first hurdle.

Indeed, a decent FA Cup run is long overdue with Matlock last reaching the first round proper back in 1989/90 when they lost 4-1 at Scunthorpe United.