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Happy Easter For Gladiators

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A potentially idle and frustrating Easter turned into a happy one for Matlock Town when their Evo-Stik League Premier status was finally confirmed on Easter Monday and they celebrated with a dramatic 3-2 derby victory against old rivals Buxton at the Silverlands 24 hours later.

More monsoon type weather saw their home clash with Stalybridge Celtic washed out last Saturday and then heavy overnight snow meant that the Easter Monday visit to Buxton was also put off.

But with a fixture pile up looking to be exacerbated, particularly for the Bucks, hasty arrangements were made to stage the fixture on Tuesday night with greatly improved weather forecast.

It proved to be a great move as far as Matlock were concerned, the Gladiators fighting back from two goals down to score three times in the final 17 minutes through Ricky German, Kieran Wallace and Joe Doyle-Charles – the final goal coming as stoppage time began.

So, Matlock rose two places above Marine AFC and Saturday’s visitors to the DCJ Group Arena, Coalville Town, and keen to end a disappointing season in a positive manner.

Nantwich Town’s 3-1 win at Sutton Coldfield Town meant that the Birmingham side could not overhaul Matlock and it is now a straight scrap between the Royals and Halesowen Town to see who finishes bottom in the sole relegation spot this term.

The Buxton win was Matlock’s best performance of the season and caretaker boss David Hoole was understandably beaming with pride afterwards: “I’m really, really pleased. The lads showed everything they needed to be top class footballers. There was passion, creativity, heart, grit, desire right from the first minute. We didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down but the boys have bought into my philosophy of the controlled build-up from the back and we have a formation that seems to suit us. We were the better side overall, it’s difficult to dominate for ninety minutes and Buxton were always going to have that ten or fifteen minutes. They were strong and went direct but our pressure made them go long.”

It looked to be one of those familiar nights watching Matlock when they failed to make their pressure count and losing a match they should have won but it all worked out okay in the end.

“There were one or two chances where the ball bobbled or we needed that extra touch and Buxton were defending well but then through our good build up play we scored three great goals. We’re all delighted for Joe Doyle-Charles in getting his first goal and when it came, he’s a top-quality player. We’d have still been positive even if we ‘d lost for we’d played well. It’s important that we play the way we should play and now the benchmark has been set.

“We’ll keep on wanting that type of performance to go with some wins. We’ll train again on Thursday and work on a few things, so we can go again on Saturday. Keeping possession is so important, we lost possession for both Buxton goals and were punished. We hope the fans enjoyed tonight and we’d like to see a good crowd in on Saturday. This is a result for everyone involved in the club and I must give a big shout out to Shaun Harrad and the rest of the staff who have played their part.”

Meanwhile, the Gladiators have received a good number of top quality applications for their vacant managerial position and interviews are to take place during the coming week.

Ian Richardson

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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