Matlock’s players accepted manager Dave Frecklington’s challenge set at the start of October of going unbeaten in the league and they ended their October domestic programme in style on Tuesday night, with the 7-0 hammering of Grantham Town.
The Gladiators were in bottom spot as September closed but are now in a more healthy looking 13th, that unbeaten sequence standing at seven games which have yielded 15 points.
Matlock fully deserved the margin of victory against the Gingerbreads who suffered a sixth straight defeat at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
They could easily have tallied double figures with several near misses and a missed penalty but hat-tricks for both Craig Westcarr and debutant Luke Hinsley plus a maiden first team goal for the up and coming Billy Whitehead made it a night to remember.
The only blot on the night was more injuries with both skipper Adam Yates and Dwayne Wiley having hamstring niggles.
Fleckington said: “We were superb although I wasn’t very happy with the first twenty minutes or so when we had no tempo to our play, we were too loose in possession and playing too many straight balls.
“With Grantham playing a high line we were playing straight into their hands but after a well worked first goal and then a second soon afterwards, both worked out on the training ground, we were very comfortable.”
Naturally Frecklington heaped praise on his strike force after such an overwhelming victory and Town’s historians will be delving through the record books to check when a player last netted a hat-trick on his Matlock debut and there were two treble scorers in the same match.
Hinsley, 28, has arrived from bottom markers North Ferriby United having scored six goals in 10 games for the Villagers, including one in Matlock’s 5-2 win on Humberside when the unbeaten run began. He has had previous NPL experience at Frickley Athletic and last season at Buxton.
“As debuts go there’s not many better than Luke Hinsley’s,” said Frecklington. “New players can take time to settle in but Luke’s hit the ground running and gives us a focal point to our attack.
“He was quality and linked up brilliantly with Craig Westcarr who is a class act and a delight to manage with his goals and leadership.
“Then Billy coming on and scoring his goal topped the night off. He was disappointed not to score the winner on Saturday, our last words to him when he went on were to go on and make up for Saturday and it was a magnificent header and we’re all delighted for him.
“Craig King’s had three assists as a wide man so t was a great all round night for us.”
The unbeaten record looked to be in deep jeopardy on Saturday as visiting Hednesford Town twice held a two goal lead but never say die Matlock had other ideas. Two more Westcarr goals plus one for Jamie Jackson saw the hosts fight back for a 3-3 draw.
“It was a good point, a great fightback,” said Frecklington. “To be honest Hednesford could have been four or five goals up but we were still in it and the lads showed tremendous character, they showed belief, there was a great work ethic and desire and they don’t know when they’re beaten and in the end we could even have won it.”
October finishes with cup action in the FA Trophy at St Neots Town on Saturday and in the Integro NPL Cup at Basford United on Monday.
Having experienced the earliest of exits in the FA Cup to Halesowen, who like St Neots, ply their trade in the Southern League Central Premier Division, Matlock will be keen to have a Trophy run.
St Neots made it all the way to the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup before losing at Alfreton last weekend. Frecklington says Matlock have a difficult tie in Cambridgeshire.
“We’ve picked up in the league wit this unbeaten run, now it would be nice to have a good cup run for both the football club and the supporters who’ve backed us all the way,” he said.
“It’s also important to us as a group. We’ve had them watched, they won at Lowestoft on Tuesday and it’ll be really tough for they have threats all over the pitch.
“They’re similar to us, they never give in as their comebacks in the FA Cup games they’ve played clearly show, they never know when they’re beaten. It’s never easy at St Neots but we’ll be going there to try and keep the run going and it should be a good game.”
Should Saturday’s game end in a draw the replay will be at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night, the Basford game would need a new date.
Frecklington admits though that the persistent and never ending injury list is frustrating.
And added: “Marshy (Marcus Marshall) had to come off on Saturday and looks like being out for four weeks and Yatesy and Dwayne Wiley have picked up injuries in the Grantham game that we’ll need to assess, so things aren’t getting any better in that regard.
“It’s really frustrating as we’re not able to name the same side twice. That’s why it’s so pleasing that we’re on the run we are and that’s credit to the whole group.
“It’ll be interesting when everyone’s fit and we have the likes of Shaun Harrad, Michael Williams, Marshy, Taron Hare, Lee Davie available again.”
Youngster Alex Hurst has left Matlock and joined National League North Bradford (Park Avenue), scoring on his debut last weekend in Avenue’s 6-0 win at Nuneaton.