The Paul Phillips era at Matlock Town finally got underway this week and it’s been a satisfactory start with four points out of six, writes Ian Richardson.
“I’d have preferred the six points,” he said after watching Matlock beat Radcliffe 4-0 – their best league win of the season – after Saturday’s emotional clash with Hyde United, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Those two results saw Matlock move three places up the league table to 17th ahead of what Phillips expects to be the toughest match of his reign so far at sixth-placed Warrington Town on Sunday.
Phillips said: “On Saturday the match was rightly overshadowed in remembering Jordan Sinnott and we went one down in nine minutes to a poor goal from our point of view, their lad reacting the quickest to score after Jon (Stewart) had pushed the free-kick out.
“But I can’t recall Hyde having many more shots and I was very pleased with how we recovered and we did enough to win the game.”
Piteu Crouz equalised seven minutes into the second half with Matlock also striking the woodwork twice and having two good penalty appeals turned down.
Crouz was on target again against Radcliffe with the Gladiators’ second goal to add to Nathan Valentine’s header before substitutes James Tague and assistant manager Brian Wilson on his debut scored late on against Radcliffe’s ten men.
“In the Radcliffe game I thought we showed a great willingness to work, we put our bodies on the line and worked as a team,” said Phillips.
“We could have scored five or six. Radcliffe have some good footballers, we knew they’d try to play that way. So we set traps to pick them off, we kept our shape and worked hard off the ball.”
The clean sheet in the Radcliffe game was the Gladiators first in the league since a 3-0 win at Whitby on September 28.
“I’m really pleased with that, we should have kept a clean sheet on Saturday. It’s about working hard all over the pitch, I thought the likes of Chib Chilaka and Tomas Poole did their bit further up the field, we defended well as a team.
“Clean sheets are a good habit. If we can keep clean sheets we’ve every chance of winning the game if we can keep these kinds of performances up,” said Phillips.
Looking ahead to the visit to Warrington, Phillips knows his side could face a tough afternoon.
“They always seem to be in and around the play-offs, they’ve got good players and a good manager in Paul Carden and it’ll be our hardest test so far.
“We’ve got to show the same desire and work as hard as we’ve done to date, we’ll go there as underdogs but we want to test ourselves against the top sides.
“We’ve got a lot of games on Saturdays and Tuesdays, Sunday and Wednesday this week and we’ve got to keep our energy levels up, freshness in the squad is so important.
“It’s finding that happy medium of keeping the lads fresh but well drilled. We’ve had two tough tests so far psychologically and mentally, we’ve still got at least 20 games to go this season,” added Phillips.