• Matthew Rhodes

PREVIEW: Matlock hope for repeat of Grantham success

Matlock Town will be looking to build on a hugely impressive victory at South Shields as they face off against struggling Grantham Town in the NPL Premier Division on Tuesday evening.

The Gladiators could go as high as second in the league if they pick up another three points at the South Kesteven Sports Stadium. Matlock have lost only once in their last six competitive games and that was a controversial FA Cup defeat to higher level opposition.

The Opposition

Grantham Town were formed all the way back in 1874. The Lincolnshire outfit play their home games in Grantham at the South Kesteven Sports Stadium. This is a very distinctive ground in this division as it has an athletics track around the pitch. In normal circumstances, the ground can hold up to 7,500 people with a seated capacity of 750.

The club are managed by former Buxton and Ilkeston Town manager Martin McIntosh. The 49-year-old Scotsman also had experience in Derbyshire during his playing career as he made appearances for Alfreton Town. McIntosh became the Gingerbreads manager in March of this year.

Grantham had a difficult 2019/20 campaign and were in 19th position in the NPL Premier Division when the league season was officially cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team had also played several more league games at this point than Atherton Collieries and the Gladiators themselves who were directly below them, so the Gingerbreads were staring right into a relegation dogfight.

They currently lie in 20th position at this very early stage of the NPL Premier Division campaign after securing only two points from their first five league games. In their most recent game, the Gingerbreads lost 4-2 at home in the league against Lancaster City with Greg Young and Liam Hardy getting on the scoresheet for Grantham.

The Gingerbreads haven’t won a trophy since 2012. In that year, Grantham Town won the NPL Division One South league title as well as the Lincolnshire County Shield.

Grantham Town have had some high-profile managers in the past. Former Premier League defender Ian Culverhouse and former European Cup winner Gary Mills have managed the Gingerbreads. Remarkably, Martin O’Neill’s first managerial role was at Grantham. He managed the club from 1987 to 1989 and has gone on to manage the likes of Celtic, Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland.

One to Watch

Thirty-one year old midfielder James Berrett will be a key player to look out for in Saturday’s game. Berrett was born in Halifax and has played for the likes of Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United, Yeovil Town and Grimsby Town. During his time at Carlisle United, Berrett won the Football League Trophy at Wembley Stadium in 2011. Berrett has strong Irish links and has represented the Republic of Ireland at U18, U19 and U21 level. Berrett joined the Gingerbreads in June 2019 from FC Halifax Town.

Team News

The Gladiators have a host of suspensions to contend with following the three red cards received during the FA Cup tie against Guiseley. Top goal scorer Liam Hughes will be suspended for Tuesday night’s game while Adam Yates and Kade Coppin will also have to miss the game due to suspension.

Jon Stewart’s absence continues as he still recovers from his injury he suffered in pre-season.

Nathan Whitehead, Chib Chilaka and Ben Edgson will continue to play for their dual-registered clubs for the time being.

Previous Meeting

We don’t have to look back far for the last time these two sides met as they have already played each other this season. On October 3, the Gladiators beat the Gingerbreads 1-0 at the South Kesteven Sports Stadium to reach the FA Cup third qualifying round. Callum Dolan scored the only goal of the game in the 79th minute in front of a crowd of 349.