Gladiators all set for tough FA Cup encounter

Matlock chairman Tom Wright.
Matlock chairman Tom Wright.

Matlock will be hoping for a big and vocal home crowd as possible FA Cup glory draws closer in Saturday’s home clash with Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division rivals Workington.

Should the Gladiators win then they will be just one match away from the first round proper, a potential tie with a Football League club and, maybe, a television appearance.

“It’s obviously a big game for us and possibly our most important for a number of years,” said Matlock chairman Tom Wright.

“Workington will be tough opponents, they always are, but we want the people of the town and the surrounding area to come down in their numbers on Saturday and support the lads.

“That extra backing from Matlock people could make all the difference because Workington, despite the distance they have to come, will be well supported. I’m hoping our fans can be our 12th man on Saturday.”

That view is echoed by Matlock’s management team.

“We’re still dreaming and we want to be after Saturday,” said joint boss Glenn Kirkwood. “We’ve got great fans here, bring a mate down with you and let’s hear you cheer us on.”

Having beaten Midland League Heanor Town and Evo-Stik First Division South Kidsgrove Athletic in previous rounds, Matlock are having their best run in the competition since 2007/08 when they went out at this same stage away to Harrogate Railway Athletic. who then progressed to the second round before losing to Mansfield in a live TV game.

Matlock go into the cup tie having been beaten just once in their last six outings, 2-0 at Mickleover last weekend. But the other five matches in league and cup have all been won, their latest coming on Tuesday night when Dwayne Wiley netted the only goal at home to Frickley Athletic.

Goalkeeping coach Adam Sollitt feels Matlock did not do themselves justice at Mickleover but did better against Frickley.

He said: “We didn’t get the ball down enough on Saturday, admittedly the pitch wasn’t great but Mickleover won more second balls and basically stopped us from playing.

“The own goal was a fluke but one we shouldn’t have conceded, we then miss the penalty and have what our lads thought was a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out. I was confident at half-time that we could still get something out of it, but it was a stop-start game that suited Mickleover.”

It was no surprise that Frickley were difficult opponents.

Sollitt added: “They’re a tough side and in the first half we needed to get the ball down a little bit more as we were lacking a bit of quality, but after making a couple of changes in the second-half we were a good 20 per cent better.

“It was a great finish from Dwayne , we could have got one or two more goals and we also defended really well. It was a good battling performance and we all agreed that it’s a good sign if you can get a decent result when not playing at your best.”

Matlock have just one injury doubt in Jake Green who missed the Frickley win with a knee injury.

Alex Pursehouse made his debut as his replacement after injury and came through with flying colours in an energetic display.

If a replay is needed it will be in Cumbria on Tuesday, otherwise the Gladiators will continue their league programme at Barwell.