Injuries affect Hyde plans for Matlock

Matlock Town update, by Ian Richardson.

"The best laid plans of mice and men.......often go awry."

These must be Matlock manager Mark Atkins' sentiments as he prepares his side for their attractive home FA Carlsberg Trophy tie with Blue Square North leaders Hyde FC on Saturday.

Speaking after the midweek draw at Stafford Rangers where Matlock collected another four injuries on top of the two they picked up in the 4-0 defeat at Chester three days earlier, Atkins reflected "I'd got a game plan for Hyde but that'll probably go out of the window now. It might be a case of mix and match, seeing who we've got fit. We'll assess things at training on Thursday, it might be a case of whether we have a proper session given the injuries.Whoever's the fittest might end up playing!"

Micky Harcourt, who would have missed the cup game in any event through a one match ban, is out with hamstring trouble, as is fellow full back Oscar Radford. The Doncaster loanee looks likely to be on the sidelines for between two to six weeks, so it could be that he has played his last game for Matlock, for the time being at least.

Then at Marston Road in a physical encounter, top scorer Ian Holmes jarred his knee as he kicked the floor instead of the ball in the first half. He was replaced at half time by Lee Morris, back at the Reynolds Stadium after a short spell with Belper Town. But Morris is also out of the equation on Saturday having already played for the Nailers in the competition. The second half at Stafford saw another hamstring victim in Gareth Davies while Kris Witcombe and Liam King were both victims of over the top challenges and suffered ankle and calf injuries respectively.

Atkins thought he had found an attacking recruit over the weekend and he was ready to throw him in against Stafford, but on Monday he texted the Matlock boss and said he was accepting an offer from a club in a higher league.

"That's life, we'll keep looking, he was all set to come and frustratingly he would have been eligible to play on Saturday as well."

So it's a case of wait and see for Atkins and the fans, and manager and support will be hoping that he can pull a rabbit out of the hat who can play on Saturday ahead of the tie and that the injury situation eases.. Word has it that another striker may be coming to Matlock but he too is cup tied.

It's not been ideal preparation to face a side beaten just twice in twenty league matches so far this season.

"It's no use moaning about things, we;ve got to grin and bear it" Atkins continued."Hyde are an excellent side who play some very good football. We'll go out there and give it our best shot. It should make for a good game especially if we play like we know we can, even with the injuries we have."

Morris looks like being joined by Lee Whittington who has spent the last few weeks at Christ Church Meadow.

"When Lee became available we were obviously interested. We didn't want him to go, so we're delighted to have him back. We're short numbers wise as well, and I feel the side needs freshening up a bit so the deal was right for all concerned. Lee Whittington will be back as well, it's rules and regulations that stop him from coming back just now."

Nathan Joynes is awaiting a scan on a knee injury so Matlock presently have just two out and out strikers available.

Reflecting on the last two away games, Atkins was disappointed with the Matlock performance at Chester but was quick to acknowledge Chester's quality and the way his side bounced back at Stafford.

"Whoever finishes above Chester, if anyone does even, will win the league. It'll take a very good team to beat them to the title. They were excellent all over the park against us, they had strength, they were positive and they had skill, in fact it was probably the best ever performance I've seen at this level. saying that I was disappointed with us. Four or fiver of us weren't at the races and you'll get punished against a side of that quality. Maybe the size of the stadium and the crowd was too much for some of them. I thought we'd go there and put on a good show and maybe win but 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 having that extra little quality, especially in attack, that would have won us the game. Full credit to the players, they showed a lot of character, everyone did well, we bounced back and it was a good reaction."

Matlock are back in league action on Wednesday at home to title chasing Hednesford, who Matlock beat in the last round of the Trophy. A draw on Saturday will mean a replay at Hyde on Monday and the postponement of the Hednesford visit.

Meanwhile Matlock's reward for their derby win against Mickleover in the Doodson Sport Cup is another home tie, against Frickley Athletic on Wednesday January 11. The South Elmsall side are at Matlock for a league fixture just four days earlier. But in the Cawarden Derbyshire Senior Cup the Gladiators must travel to Evo-Stik NPL First Division South newcomers New Mills for a third round meeting on Monday December 12.

Where next?

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