PREVIEW: Gladiators finally return to competitive action

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

Matlock Town return to competitive action for the first time in just over six months this Saturday as they square off against OJM Black Country in the FA Cup Preliminary Qualifying Round.

Numerous players will be expected to make their official debuts for the Gladiators as Paul Phillips has made wholesale changes to the squad over the summer.


The Opposition

OJM Black Country are a tenth tier team (three tiers below Matlock Town) who play in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division. The team, until very recently, used to be known as Black Country Rangers but they have since joined forces with a local, successful Sunday league side known as OJM which has given the club its new name. Their manager is Adam Younis and the club is expected to be battling for promotion to the ninth tier this season.

The club were formed in 1996 and the most recent trophy they won was the JW Hunt Cup back in 2013.

OJM Black Country defeated Bewdley Town 5-1 away from home in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Qualifying Round to reach this stage. This already matches the club’s best ever run in the FA Cup.


Team News

Matlock Town have several players that are unavailable for Saturday’s game. As has been widely reported, goalkeeper Jon Stewart will be on the sidelines for some time after picking up an injury during the 0-0 pre-season friendly draw against Sheffield.

Since then, Paul Phillips has signed two new goalkeepers. One of them is the returning face of Kyle Trenerry but he also won’t be able to play on Saturday due to prior commitments. This means it is almost certain that new goalkeeper Shaun Rowley will be immediately called into action.

Also ruled out of Saturday’s cup game due to injury are Mark Lees, Callum Chippendale, Chib Chilaka and Nathan Valentine.

Striker Ben Edgson will be unavailable as he will be gaining match fitness with his dual-registered club New Mills. New signing Andre Johnson will have to wait to make his Gladiators debut as he also has prior commitments that were already set in place before he officially signed for Matlock Town.


Previous Meeting

This is the first time ever these two sides will have met.

In last season’s FA Cup, Matlock Town reached the Second Qualifying Round before being knocked out. In the First Qualifying Round, the Gladiators beat Basford United 2-1 at the Proctor Cars Stadium but in the next round they suffered a shock exit at the hands of eighth-tier Kidsgrove Athletic.

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