Matlock Town will be looking to cap a thrilling season with victory over Gresley in Tuesday night’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Final at the Proact Stadium.
The Gladiators cup form has been exceptional during the 2016/17 campaign which saw them reach the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, the 2nd Round proper of the FA Trophy - in a run which brought victories over higher league FC Halifax and Solihull Moors, plus in the semi final of the Senior Cup, National League North neighbours and current holders Alfreton Town were beaten on penalties.
Matlock finished a highly respectable ninth in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division after a number of mediocre seasons and it was only in the final week that their challenge for the end of season play-offs evaporated. Their final league outing saw them draw 1-1 at home with Warrington Town which left joint boss Craig Hopkins reflecting on a refereeing decision which cost his side the extra two points.
He said: “The officials made a mistake in disallowing Marc Newsham’s goal in the first half and in the last two matches we got the rough end of the stick with the foul on Phil Barnes for Buxton’s first goal in the previous game.
“On Saturday we were clearly the better side and if our finishing had been anything like we’d have won comfortably but if our lads were putting away their chances regularly they wouldn’t be playing at Evo-Stik level.
“We musn’t forget also the 30-odd goals Nangs (Marcus Dinanga) has scored for us. I don’t think it’s a case of missed chances as to why we didn’t make the play-offs, we just ran out of steam.”
Hopkins believes that the cup runs were partly responsible for Matlock’s final position but admitted that their cup success been a huge contributory factor in what has been a good campaign.
“Had we not had the cup runs we’d definitely have finished higher, the number of games we played impacted on our league season,” he said.
“We played more games than anyone else up there challenging but we wanted to do well in the cups and have the excitement we enjoyed so we have to accept it. It is what it is and after 46 league games you can’t really argue as to where you finish. Now the aim is to try and win the Derbyshire Cup.”
Opponents Gresley finished 18th in the NPL First Division South but Hopkins warned that the Moatmen had reserved their best performances for the Senior Cup this season.
“I’d say we’re possibly the favourites but don’t forget they’ve beaten Glossop and then won 3-0 against Buxton in the semi-final so we’re expecting a tough game. Anyone can beat anyone in cup games and as you know the side that plays the better on the night generally wins, one division’s difference means nothing in the cups - as we’ve proved.
“We trained on Tuesday and will train again on Saturday and we’ll be impressing on the lads that for how hard they’ve worked all season, it’s important that we give it everything we’ve got.”
Hopkins thanked the fans for staying behind after last Saturday’s final home game as the players did a lap of honour and thanked the supporters for their backing.
And added: “That was nice and again we thank them, now we want to give them something else to shout about on Tuesday. We hope they’ll turn out in force and get behind us again.”
Admission at the Proact is £10 for adults, £5 for concessions (over 60) and £3 for under 16s.Tickets and travel can be bought from the Club Shop at the DCJ Group Arena on Thursday, Saturday, Monday or Tuesday between 9am and 12noon, transport leaving the ground at 6.15pm in good time for the 7.45pm kick-off.