PREVIEW: Gladiators return to league action against the Celts

Matlock Town host Stalybridge Celtic this Saturday afternoon in the Northern Premier League. The Gladiators come into this match with three victories in a row but haven’t actually played in the league for some time due to rearranged cup ties and postponed league matches due to waterlogged pitches.

Since their last league match, Matlock Town have advanced to the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy and the Quarter-Final of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.


The Opposition

Stalybridge Celtic currently lie in 7th position in the Northern Premier League which is one position above the Gladiators although they have played one game more in the league than Matlock Town. In their most recent match, the Celts defeated local rivals Ashton United away from home 2-1 thanks to goals from Nathan Valentine and Scott Bakkor in the Integro League Cup First Round.

Stalybridge Celtic’s manager is Simon Haworth. Haworth started his playing career at Cardiff City where he scored eight league goals in 35 appearances. He would go on to score 44 league goals in 117 appearances for Wigan Athletic between 1998 and 2002 before then scoring 31 times in 79 league appearances for Tranmere Rovers. Haworth would also go on to make five appearances for Wales in his playing career. Haworth was the manager of Clitheroe between 2016 and 2018 before becoming the manager of Stalybridge Celtic.

The Celts play at Bower Fold which has a capacity of 6,500 and a seated capacity of 1,300. Their most recent honour was the Northern Premier League President’s Cup trophy in 2003.


One to Watch

Stephen O’Halloran will be one to watch in defence for Gladiators fans on Saturday afternoon. O’Halloran is 31 years old and has made two appearances for the Republic of Ireland.

He joined the Celts from FC United of Manchester just before the start of this season. The Irish defender started his professional career at Aston Villa where he also had loan spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Southampton, Leeds United and Swansea City.

As his career has progressed, he has made far more regular starting appearances in the Greater Manchester area for Stockport County and Salford City before moving back to Stockport County in 2017.


Team News

Matlock Town don’t have any suspension or injury concerns other than the long-term lay-offs for both Nathan Whitehead and Craig King.


Previous Meeting

Matlock Town’s most recent encounter with Stalybridge Celtic was almost exactly a year ago on November 17th, 2018 in the Northern Premier League at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

The Gladiators won the match 3-1 in front of an attendance of 521 thanks to goals from Marcus Marshall, Jamie Jackson and Jake Green while Liam Tongue scored in reply for the Celts.

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