PREVIEW: Gladiators aim for huge cup upset

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

Matlock Town will look to put their dismal league form behind them this Saturday as they visit National League outfit Eastleigh in the Second Round of the FA Trophy.

The Gladiators caused a surprise by eliminating Chorley in the previous round and Steve Kittrick’s men will be desperate to carry on their FA Trophy run and get their 2019/20 campaign back on track.


The Opposition

Eastleigh currently sit in 16th position in the National League and come into this match with two defeats on the bounce. In their most recent match, Eastleigh lost 2-1 away at Hartlepool United in the league but won their most recent home match 1-0 against Petersfield Town in the Third Round of the Hampshire Senior Cup. In the First Round of the FA Trophy, Eastleigh thrashed Yate Town 6-1 at home.

Eastleigh are known as the Spitfires and play at the Silverlake Stadium. The ground can hold up to 5,192 people with a seated capacity of 2,700. 39 year old Ben Strevens is Eastleigh’s manager. As a player, Strevens played as a forward and won the Conference National twice with Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge and was also part of the Gillingham team that won the League Two title in the 2012/13 season. He ended his playing career at the Spitfires and became their permanent manager in November 2018.

Eastleigh’s former managers include the likes of Ronnie Moore, Martin Allen and Andy Hessenthaler. Their most recent trophy win came in 2014 when they won the Conference South league title.


One to Watch

Veteran forward Tyrone Barnett will be a key player to watch for visiting Matlock supporters. Barnett joined Eastleigh just before the start of this season and his previous clubs include the likes of Peterborough United, Shrewsbury Town, AFC Wimbledon and Cheltenham Town.

He won Macclesfield Town’s Player of the Year award in 2011 and was also selected in the PFA League Two Team of the Year in 2012. Barnett has scored in three of Eastleigh’s last four games.


Team News

The big question for the Gladiators is will Dwayne Wiley be fit? The central defender is currently rated as 50-50 to be available for Saturday’s cup tie. Wiley pulled up with a hamstring injury and was substituted in Matlock’s Boxing Day defeat to Buxton but did participate in some light running at the club’s training session on Tuesday evening this week.

Sam Scrivens is cup-tied for Saturday’s game due to an extremely brief appearance for Guiseley at an earlier stage in this competition. Marcus Marshall went off with a knock in Matlock’s most recent game but should be fine to take part this weekend.

Nathan Whitehead, Craig King and Ben Edgson remain on the long-term injury list.


Previous Meeting

There isn’t one! This will be the first time ever these two sides have met.


Luke Potter Quotes

I interviewed Matlock Town’s assistant manager after the club’s training session on Tuesday evening. Here’s what Steve Kittrick’s right hand man had to say going into this huge cup tie:

“We’ve had a good training session, the lads have worked hard, the lads always put a shift in…it’s just a case of getting over the mistakes and going back to the basic fundamentals of what we were good at and what we’ve gone away from recently, so we’ve just been trying to implement some of that in the last training session. It was a good session, it was good to see Jack Rea back in for a full session as well, so that’s a positive.”

“The pressure is on Eastleigh. They’re a full-time Conference side, we’ve watched some videos of them, the manager has gone to see them tonight. They’re a really good side, got a good set-up. It’ll be a long trip but we’re going there on the Friday so we can prepare right, do things right…we’ve got to go there and put 110% in, this is big for the club, big for the fans and for ourselves really. We just want to get into the next round so we’re going to put everything into that.”

I asked Luke Potter if it was Steve Kittrick’s idea for the team to head to Eastleigh the day before the game:

“Yeah, Steve had discussions with the board, so we’re doing things right, we’re doing things professionally…we’re making sure we get a full rest, so it was good from the club to organise that.”

Potter was also asked about whether Dwayne Wiley will be available for Saturday’s game:

“Dwayne’s been with the physio, so it’s 50-50. It’s a hard one with a hamstring, we don’t want to push him but he is a massive player for us. He’s that powerful figure, that commanding figure at the back and he’s probably been one of the best players for us this season. He’s been a big loss but hopefully he’s not too far away.”

Potter was then questioned about how the players are coping with their poor league form:

“When we’re in possession, I do feel that we are a bit short on confidence. You can see that in the body language…we’ve just got to get out of them bad habits and get back to the good habits we were showing at the start of the season. We’ve just got to be confident and believe in ourselves. We’re a really good group and we’ve just got to get back to winning ways…the results have been poor, there’s no beating around the bush…we’ve just got to believe more when we’re in possession and have a bit more urgency when we do things.”

Potter was finally asked as to what his message is for the Matlock supporters planning on making the trip to Eastleigh:

“Enjoy your day! Get behind us. Hopefully we’ll put 110% in and get a result that way after a long journey.”

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