Matlock Town host Derbyshire rivals Belper Town on Saturday in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup in what promises to be a cracking local derby in front of a big crowd.

The Gladiators have had an excellent start to their 2021/22 season. Five wins in a row after losing their opening game of the campaign sees the boys in blue in third position in the NPL Premier Division table and just one point behind leaders South Shields and fierce rivals Buxton. The question today is: can they translate that league form into the cup against a potential banana skin opponent?

The Opposition

Belper Town play one tier below the Gladiators in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division. The Derbyshire outfit currently occupy 12th position in the table after winning one, drawing one and losing two of their opening four league games of the campaign. In their most recent game, Belper played in another Derbyshire derby; they drew 2-2 away at Ilkeston Town and picked up a point thanks to goals from Danny South and former Gladiator Jonathon Margetts.

Unlike Matlock, Belper have already played one game in this season's FA Cup to reach this stage. In the Preliminary Qualifying Round, Belper beat Whitchurch Alport at home 3-1 thanks to goals from Tom Wilson and one from Jonathon Margetts.

Belper Town were formed all the way back in 1883 and are affectionately known as The Nailers due to the town's famous nail-making industry. The Nailers play their home games at The Raygar Stadium within the town. The stadium can hold up to 2,650 spectators and holds a seated capacity of up to 500. Their manager is former Gladiator player Grant Black. Past managers for the Nailers include the likes of Ernie Moss and Tommy Taylor.

Belper's best ever performance in the FA Cup was way back in the 1887-88 season when they reached the First Round Proper. They came close to matching that two seasons ago though following a remarkable run to the fourth and final qualifying round where they only lost out 2-1 to National League outfit Notts County. The Nailers have also won the Derbyshire Senior Cup five times in their history.

Remarkably, a total of nine Belper players in their current squad (plus their manager) have formerly played for the Gladiators.

One to Watch

Former Matlock Town player Jonathon Margetts will be a familiar face for Gladiators fans but definitely a player to keep an eye on in this FA Cup tie. Margetts has already scored four goals this season and has scored in every game bar one for the Nailers so far in their 2021/22 campaign.

The 27 year-old striker has had a well-travelled career. He has played for the likes of Harrogate Town, Tranmere Rovers, Lincoln City, Scunthorpe United and Frickley Athletic.

The striker is in great form and Matlock's defence will need to be on high alert to prevent him from scoring against his old club.

Team News

Ross Hannah will be available for selection once again following his suspension.

It is hoped that Jesurun Uchegbulam will be back following his slight hamstring issue which led to him being rested as a precaution in Matlock's most recent game against Gainsborough Trinity. John Pritchard is expected to miss out on the game due to injury.

Midfielder Craig Carney has departed Matlock Town in the last few days and has since joined fellow NPL Premier Division outfit Bamber Bridge.

Previous Meeting

Matlock Town last played Belper Town in the first round of the Integro League Cup in the ill-fated 2019/20 season. After a very entertaining game at the Raygar Stadium, the Gladiators squeezed through to the next round on penalties following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes. The Nailers had moved into a 2-0 lead but second half goals from Piteu Crouz and Chib Chilaka got Matlock right back into the game. Goalkeeper Dan Wallis was Matlock's hero of the hour in a tense penalty shoot-out which Matlock ended up winning 6-5.

Due to this victory, Matlock Town are the current holders of the Caroline Melbourne Trophy which is held by whoever wins the most recent game between these two Derbyshire teams.

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