Matlock Town travel to the North Yorkshire coast on Tuesday evening as they face Scarborough Athletic away from home in the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-offs semi-final.
Despite a very frustrating run of results overall from the start of February, the Gladiators approach this crucial match with a huge boost in confidence after securing a play-offs place on their own terms last weekend with an excellent 2-0 home victory over Warrington Town.
The NPL Premier Division play-off semi-finals are one-legged affairs. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, then extra time would be played and a penalty shoot-out would follow if required.
If Matlock Town defeat their North Yorkshire opponents, then they would face either South Shields or Warrington Town in the play-off final on the 2nd of May which is a Bank Holiday Monday. The venue of the play-offs final is determined by league positioning. If the Gladiators and the Mariners win their semi-finals, then South Shields would be at home for the final. If the Gladiators and the Yellows win their semi-finals, then The Proctor Cars Stadium would host the play-offs final.
Scarborough Athletic finished the 2021/22 NPL Premier Division regular league season in third position. Scarborough finished two points ahead of Matlock Town who secured fourth position in the table. In Scarborough's most recent game, they beat Radcliffe 5-2 at home in the league. The North Yorkshire outfit come into this crunch game in excellent form; they've won their last three games in a row and have only lost once in their last 21 competitive matches. Scarborough have also reached the final of this season's North Riding Senior Cup.
Scarborough Athletic are affectionately known as The Seadogs and they were founded in 2007 following the demise of former Football League outfit Scarborough. They play their home games at The Flamingo Land Stadium within the town and started playing there in 2017 after groundsharing with Bridlington Town for the first ten years of their existence. The stadium can hold up to 2,833 spectators and has a seated capacity of 586. The Seadogs manager is former Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Fulham player Jonathan Greening. Greening had a very interesting playing career. At the Red Devils, Greening was an unused substitute for Manchester United's famous 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the 1998-99 Champions League final. Greening came on as a substitute for Fulham in the 2009-10 Europa League final. Greening was also part of the Middlesbrough squad that won the 2003-04 League Cup under Steve McLaren. Jonathan would go on to make 224 appearances for West Bromwich Albion and was captain of the team that won the Championship league title in the 2007-08 campaign. Greening's hometown is Scarborough and this is his first managerial role. He was appointed as the Seadogs manager in May ahead of this season's campaign.
Scarborough Athletic last lifted a trophy back in the 2018-19 season when they won the North Riding Senior Cup. Former Gladiators boss Steve Kittrick also used to manage the Seadogs.
One to Watch
Former Matlock Town centre-half Bailey Gooda will be a key player to keep an eye on during the course of Tuesday evening. Despite a very tough 2019-20 season for Matlock, Gooda impressed many with his excellent tackling abilities. This is Gooda's second spell with the Seadogs and he's a very popular player at the club.
Bailey was part of the Seadogs team that secured promotion to the NPL Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.
Team News Darren McKnight and Adam Blakeley could potentially make their Gladiators debuts.
Liam King is unlikely to feature due to his long-term injury.
Tuesday night's play-off semi-final promises to be an extremely tight game. Both games between these two sides earlier this season have ended 0-0.
On the 18th of January, the Gladiators and the Seadogs played out a goalless draw in front of a crowd of 723 at The Proctor Cars Stadium.
On the 26th of March, another 0-0 draw took place at The Flamingo Land Stadium in front of a crowd of 1,602.