The Silkmen are back on the road this evening as we make the trip over the Peak District to Matlock Town.
Alex Bruce’s side will be looking to bounce back following a disappointing home defeat to Lancaster City at the weekend.
We take a closer look at The Gladiators in Opposition Focus.
The club was established in 1878 as Matlock Football Club. They began entering the FA Cup in 1885, but did not win a match in the competition until 1890. In that year the club were founder members of the Derbyshire Senior League and went on to win the title in the league’s inaugural season. After winning the league again the following season, they joined the Midland Amateur Alliance in 1892. However, the league was disbanded at the end of the 1892–93 season and Matlock returned to the Derbyshire Senior League. They subsequently joined the Midland League in 1894; after finishing bottom of the league in their first season, the club lost all 28 league matches in 1895–96 and left the league, again returning to the Derbyshire Senior League. They finished bottom of the league in 1897–98.
In 1955–56 Matlock finished bottom of Division One again. The league was then reorganised, with the club placed in Division One North. They won the division in 1959–60, also reaching the first round of the FA Cup, losing 1–0 to Crook Town in a replay. After retaining the league title the following season, the club moved up to the reformed Midland League, which they won at the first attempt. They were Midland League champions again in 1968–69, subsequently joining the Northern Premier League. They reached the first round of the FA Cup again in 1974–75, losing 4–1 at home to Blackburn. In the FA Trophy the club reached the final at Wembley Stadium, in which they defeated Scarborough 4–0 to win the trophy; three Matlock players in the final were brothers, the only occasion on which three brothers have played for the same team in a Wembley final. The following season saw them automatically qualify for the first round, but they lost 4–1 at Wigan Athletic.
Matlock were drawn against Wigan in the first round of the FA Cup again in 1976–77, this time winning 2–0. They went on to beat eventual Third Division champions Mansfield Town in an incredible 5–2 away from home, marking the first time the club had defeated Football League opposition. In the third round they lost 5–1 at Carlisle United. The club won the Northern Premier League’s Challenge Cup and the Peter Swales Shield in 1977–78. In 1979 they entered the Anglo-Italian Cup, finishing second in the English section. The 1983–84 season saw them finish as runners-up in the Northern Premier League. When the league gained a second division in 1987 the club became members of the Premier Division. Another FA Cup first round appearance in 1989–90 ended in a 4–1 defeat at Scunthorpe United. After finishing bottom of the division in 1995–96, they were relegated to Division One.
In 2003–04 Matlock were Division One runners-up, earning promotion to the Premier Division. They won the league’s Challenge Cup the following season. A fifth-place finish in the Premier Division in 2007–08 led to the club qualifying for the promotion playoffs, in which they lost 4–2 to Witton Albion in the semi-finals. They finished fourth in 2021–22, going on to lose 2–1 to Scarborough Athletic in the play-off semi-finals. The following season ended with a fifth-placed finish and a 4–1 play-off semi-final defeat by Warrington Town.
The Gladiators have been in mixed form in their last five games. They currently sit 13th in the Northern Premier League after two wins from their last five. Last time out, Matlock lost at home to struggling Stafford Rangers by three goals to one.
A Boxing Day victory away to Ilkeston Town saw The Gladiators go two unbeaten after a point at home to Morpeth preceded that. A Mackenzie O’Neill double saw Bamber Bridge pick up all three points in Central Lancashire after an impressive victory on the road away at FC United of Manchester made it two in five for The Gladiators.
ONE TO WATCH
Margetts is a man to watch for Matlock this evening. The former Hull City youngster is the league’s top scorer with 25 goals so far this season.
The 30 year old has four hat-tricks to his name this season and Macc will be hoping to keep the clinical forward quiet.
We last faced Matlock Town in our first home game of this season. The Silkmen came away 3-0 winners thanks to second half goals from Tom Peers, Paul Dawson and Neil Kengni.
The Silkmen will be looking for their first double of the season in Derbyshire.