Promotion-chasing Matlock Town’s hopes of continuing their fine form have been given a major shot in the arm after tying top scorer Marcus Dinanga to the club for the rest of the season.
Teenage striker Dinanga has fired 18 league and cup goals for the Gladiators since arriving on loan from Burton Albion. And he bagged the winner in a close and tense local derby at struggling Ilkeston on New Year Bank Holiday Monday, which kept Matlock a handy fifth in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Premier Division table.
“Everything is sorted, and we have him with us until the end of the season,” declared delighted boss Craig Hopkins after seeing his side move to within six points of leaders Rushall Olympic with three games in hand.
“It’s a big lift for all of us. All the lads are absolutely delighted he’s staying here and we feel it’ll do Marcus good as well.
“He has tons of ability, and we’re pleased with the progress he’s made. It’s a big compliment to us that we’ve managed to keep him.”
Matlock’s striking options have also been increased with the signing of pacy Anthony Dwyer, formerly with Mansfield Town, who has been recruited from Stafford Rangers, Dwyer (20) made his first start for the Gladiators in place of the injured Marc Newsham against Ilkeston, the club he was with at the start of the season.
“He did well particularly as he’s not started a game for a while,” said Hopkins. “He’s the type of lad who’ll put himself about and will be a good addition to the squad.”.
The win at Ilkeston proved to be a more difficult assignment than many observers had imagined after the Robins’ youthful side had been hammered 7-0 at Mickleover in their previous outing.
“We knew it would be a difficult game as they wanted to put things right after their last result,” said Hopkins. “They’re also a different proposition at home, having drawn with Whitby and beaten Buxton, and with the pitch freezing over towards the end, it meant we had to dig in more and graft,
“We weren’t our normal selves in the first half but we were better in the second. Dwayne Wiley’s header looked to be over the line and had that counted, it would heve been a different game. But we’re not blaming the assistant referee. He couldn’t see if the ball had gone over the line, so it’s one of those things, as was Niall McManus’s disallowed goal straight afterwards.
“We wanted that opening goal and once we got it, the game opened up. Ilkeston did very well, but we’d have been happy beforehand with a 1-0 win. Getting the points on the board is what really matters.”
Attention now switches to another game against a relegation-threatened side as bottom-of-the-table Corby Town visit the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on Saturday. The Steelmen produced the shock result of the day on Monday, beating high riding Spennymoor Town 3-1.
“Corby have some really good players” Hopkins warned. “If you added together all the career transfer fees of their players, it would be in the millions of pounds. They also have a new manager, so we need to be on our toes once again and make sure we do our job.”
Matlock will again be without midfielder Michael Williams, who finishes a two-game ban after accumulating ten cautions. Meanwhile the Integro League Cup home clash with Basford United has been put back two weeks to Tuesday, January 24.