Gladiators boss hopes for a hat-trick of wins
Joint boss Craig Hopkins is hoping two home wins in four days will instil confidence in the Matlock Town squad as they aim for a third successive victory at Lancaster City on Saturday.
A comfortable 2-0 win against Halesowen Town in the league was followed by an exciting and deserved 3-2 Integro League Cup victory against Grantham Town.
Before the midweek success, fellow joint boss Glenn Kirkwood had labelled the next ten days as “vitally important” in Matlock’s season, a point touched upon by Hopkins afterwards.
He said: “We want to keep the momentum going, we’re not back at full speed yet but we’re working towards it.
“It was nice to return to winning ways against Halesowen when all we really wanted was a win and a clean sheet. We’ve played much better than that but wins can breed confidence and it was important that after the better display at Witton, we got the three points.
“We were much better against Grantham, we passed it better and a little of that confidence looked to be coming back. We deserved the win and were doing really well until they made it 1-1.
“It knocked some of the stuffing out of us and Grantham had a strong spell but as the game went on we got stronger and got the two goals to win it. We want to do well in the League Cup.”
Hopkins paid tribute to youngsters Jordan Pierrepont and Zak Brunt who both played the full 90 minutes against Grantham. For Brunt, who only turned 16 a fortnight ago, it was a full debut, while Pierrepont came in for current player of the year Phil Barnes.
Hopkins said: “Both did very well, Jordan handled the ball well and certainly showed no fear when he came up against their big defender Tom Batchelor and took him out cleanly.
“For Zak, it’s far different from what he’s used to, but at 16 he has quality and he showed it in his first taste of men’s football. He’ll ache a bit on Wednesday and will be tired doing his double maths.”
Injuries seem to be a recurring theme for Matlock at present, several playing through the pain barrier. They have added to their squad with forward Jamie Jackson, 31, returning to the fold for a second time after leaving the Gladiators just over eight years ago.
Jackson, once with Chesterfield, is the half brother of former Bolton and Southampton striker Kevin Davies who also was with Chesterfield. Since leaving Matlock, Jackson has been with a number of clubs including Buxton, Worksop Town and Alfreton Town, his latest port of call being Spalding United this season.
“Jamie adds something different to what we have,” said Hopkins. “He’s local, keen as mustard, popular in the dressing room and really wanted to come here. Injuries are a bit of a headache for us so we’ll be counting the bodies on Thursday ahead of Lancaster.”
The Dolly Blues were promoted as First Division North champions at the end of last season and Hopkins knows Matlock will be in for a tough test at the Giant Axe.
“We’ve had reports come through on them and it’s clear that at home they’re a very good side so we have a difficult game but we hope to be able to build on the last two or three results and we’ll go there with confidence. We need to keep on building and improving.”
Max Hunt, who has spent the last two weeks on trial at Premiership West Bromwich Albion, is likely to be added to the squad at Lancaster and then for the match at Alfreton Town next Tuesday night, when Matlock begin their defence of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.