Injuries mount for big FA Trophy clash

Matlock boss Mark Atkins may have to use his Plan B against Blue Square North leaders Hyde, who visit the Reynolds Stadium in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy on Saturday.

The Gladiators collected no fewer than SIX injuries in the defeat at Chester and the draw at Stafford in the past week, not the ideal preparation to face the clear leaders of the league above.

Micky Harcourt, who would miss out in any case through suspension, is forced to sit the game out with hamstring trouble, as does loanee Oscar Radford, who looks like being on the sidelines for between two to six weeks with the same complaint.

Both were injured during Saturday’s 4-0 loss at the Exacta Stadium. It looks now as if Radford has played his last game for Matlock, for the time being at least, with his loan period expiring in two weeks.

Then at Stafford, Ian Holmes jarred a knee after kicking the turf during the first half. After half-time, Gareth Davies damaged a hamstring, Kris Witcombe has an ankle knock while Liam King was flattened with a bang on the calf.

“It might be a case of mix and match,” said a frustrated Atkins. “Whoever’s fit looks like playing.

“We’ll take a look at things at training and we might have to decide whether we hold a proper training session given the injuries.

“It’s not the best preparation, but we’ve got to get on with things.

“I’d got a game plan for Hyde after having watched them but that looks as if it’s out of the window now. But we’ll give it our best shot, we’ve nothing to lose. Hyde are an excellent side who play some very good football so it should make for a good game.”

Atkins’s selection problems are exacerbated as Lee Morris, who rejoined Matlock from Belper Town last Friday, is cup tied having played for the Nailers earlier in the competition.

The Town boss was set to introduce a new face at Stafford only for the deal to fall through on Monday.

“He was all set to come, everything had been agreed but he texted me on Monday to say he’d be joining a team in a higher league. That’s life, but we’ll keep looking.”

Atkins remains hopeful of another of his targets moving to Matlock but it is understood the player is also cup tied. And it looks as if Lee Whittington will be following Morris back to Matlock from Belper in the near future.

The boss believes that Chester will win the league after watching them demolish his charges on Saturday.

“It’ll take a very good team to finish above them, in fact it was the best performance I’ve seen at this level of football.

“They were strong, positive and skilful, we weren’t good enough to deal with it.

“I’m disappointed for I thought we could go there and beat them. Things we spoke about before the game didn’t happen.

“I was much happier on Tuesday. We were up for it and the players delivered, apart from that little bit of quality which would have won us the game, but full credit to the players who showed a lot of character. ”

Matlock face Hednesford at home on Wednesday in the league, provided they don’t draw against Hyde.

Any Trophy replay will be on Tameside on Monday night.

Meanwhile Matlock have received both home and away ties in cup draws announced this week. The Doodson Sport League Cup Fourth Round sees them host Frickley Athletic on Wednesday, January 11, but they must travel to New Mills in the Third Round of the Cawarden Derbyshire Senior Cup. The tie will be at Church Lane on Monday, December 12.