Craig Priest previews tomorrow’s encounter with the Gladiators....
In previous weeks we’ve not quite been looking forward to match day arriving having endured bad form, however this week it’s a different issue as now, unbeaten in six and the away day hoodoo lifted, confidence is high – suddenly we love football again!
Some have been saying the ‘Cup break’ has come at the wrong time for us, now our forms better let the league fixtures come thick and fast, personally I don’t mind as any competitive fixture is there to be won – a run in the FA Trophy, as we know, is wonderful, whilst the FA Cup can be financially beneficial – any extra money will be welcomed by all involved.
The Wembley final of 2011 will never be forgotten, bar that final minute obviously, I think one criticism from last season was the fact that we never really had another go at reaching Wembley, Paul Cox’s Stags failing at the first hurdle against Droylsden in the wake of Duncan Russell’s Wembley 15, I’ll be honest with you now – I don’t care if we don’t win the competition this term, I just want us to turn up tomorrow against Matlock and give it a go, victory extends our unbeaten run and takes confidence onto the next match, an FA Cup second round tie with fellow Blue Square Bet Premier side Lincoln City which in turn, takes confidence into the league.
If we are serious about our ambitions this term then I think in some respects we should look at the FA Trophy, FA Cup and the BSBP as the same, winnable matches. Winning games gives you momentum; momentum in turn takes you forwards and brings success.
The way we played at Macclesfield midweek was electrifying at times, we clicked! I hope we can bring this home with us and continue to blossom, weather we make changes to the side or not. Obviously Geohaghon’s ban is over and he’s back in contention, Luke Jones though was nothing short of immense and Paul Cox would find it very difficult to justify dropping him, I think stick with what worked and get the job done – consistency is key.
Matlock themselves will not role over, they’ll be sniffing a repeat of the 1976 FA Cup tie when minnows Matlock thumped then division three leaders Stags 5-2 at Field Mill. Nearly 36 years on, the two MTFC’s meet again in the FA Trophy for the first time competitively since that dark and historic FA Cup match. Mark Atkins’ Gladiators of the Evo-Stick Premier Division will know all about the infamous FA Cup scalp over the Stags and will look for another scalp to help aid their current season, defeat to Hednesford Town midweek ending a seven game unbeaten run as the Gladiators look to climb from their 14th placed position in the current league table, the position they finished last season in.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins has vast experience to draw from, winning the premier league with Blackburn Rovers in the 1994-95 season, at the Gladiators helm since November 2008 the former Blackburn and Wolves midfielder keeps a stable ship and will have his players fired up for tomorrow’s match, Paul Cox must ensure his players feed from their recent success and learn from their experience with Slough Town: be ruthless and bury your chances!!
Cox’s side will be aided by the supporters tomorrow with any luck as it looks like only the West Stand will be open for the tie for home supporters, let’s get the drum in there and make the One Call Stadium the most inhospitable place for the visitors and the most inspiring place for our own players.
LAST TIME WE MET
As mentioned about it’s some 36 years since the two MTFC’s last locked horns in a competitive fixture, Matlock knocking Mansfield out of the FA Cup in 1976. Matlock supporters see the side of 76/77 as club heroes, legends and icons, with goal scorers Nick Fenoughty, Dave Goodwin, Colin Oxley and Peter Scot all remembered forever along with every on looking supporters story, beating Mansfield the first time was a dream come true, there dream now is to do it again – it’s our task to shatter their dream in order to chase our own.
Following the FA Cup upset of 76 there have been further meetings between the two MTFC’s but only in friendly outings – a mixture of reserve and youth players beat the Gladiators back in August 2007 with youngsters Lewis Trimmer and Ryan Goward netting for Stags in the most recent of meetings
The Matlock side that day included now Gladiators skipper James Luckic who has over 590 appearances for Matlock, his goal helping to send Matlock into the FA Trophy first round against Stalybridge.
Prior to that goals for Simon Brown and Callumn Lloyd contributed to a 2-2 draw in pre-season of 2005, The Gladiators grabbed a 4-2 victory against a mixture of reserves and youth teamers in 2004 two seasons after a much stronger Stags had been narrowly beaten 2-1. Jamie Lomas was on the score sheet for Mansfield in pre-season of 2000, a 1-0 win.
GLADIATORS ROAD TO ROUND ONE
Matlock have previous in the FA Trophy having won the competition back in 1974-75 and began their “road to Wembley” this term by beating Paul Cox’s former side Eastwood 2-1 in the first qualifying round. Next up it was Leek Town where a goalless draw saw a replay needed, Matlock comfortable 3-1 winners to set up a third qualifying round tie with Stalybridge Celtic, where the Gladiators overturned a one goal deficit to run out 2-1 winners.
If you can’t make it to the One Call Stadium tomorrow, then join me via our MM-LIVE page from 2pm for build up followed by regular updates, should the match end level and go to a replay, coverage details will be announced in due course with a potential replay set for Tuesday night.
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