Updated: Aug 16, 2019
Matlock Town will play Bamber Bridge this coming Saturday at the Proctor Cars Stadium on the opening day of the Northern Premier Division 2019/20 campaign.
Both teams will be eager to make a positive beginning to the season as Matlock Town have made wholesale changes to the staff and squad since the end of last season. On the other hand, Bamber Bridge just managed to rescue their Northern Premier Division status.
Bamber Bridge were staring at an immediate return to the eighth tier of English football before an inspired run of form right at the end of the 2018/19 season saved them. This three match winning streak included a home victory at the expense of Matlock Town where the Gladiators were defeated 4-2.
But what does the new season have in store for Brig? I got in touch with Bamber Bridge’s media contributor, Ryan Smart, for an insight:
"As far as signings go Brig have made four, probably the most notable is Danny Pilkington who has had Football League experience with Stockport County. Ryan White has also rejoined the club from FC United & Gary Pett has rejoined after a spell at Squires Gate. All three of those are attackers. Left back Adam Sumner has also signed," he said.
"It's also manager Joey Collins's first full season in charge - he and Matt Lawlor took joint charge for the final few games of last season.
"As far as prospects go, I think most fans would be happy with a mid-table finish but we finished last season strongly so hopefully that momentum can be carried forward into this season & maybe a finish even higher."
One to Watch
Right-sided midfielder Alistair Waddecar has been a loyal servant to Bamber Bridge since 2010. Waddecar played a huge part in Brig’s survival last season scoring an impressive seven goals in the last five matches of the 2018/19 campaign.
Can Chop Suey (as he’s known to his friends and teammates!) carry on the new season where he left off at the expense of the Gladiators? We’ll soon find out.
Matlock Town’s 2019/20 Prospects
This Saturday is a landmark day in Matlock Town’s history as this marks Steve Kittrick’s first competitive game as manager. Kittrick has had a very busy summer. Assistant manager Chris Bolder left his position within a week of Kittrick being appointed to take over as the new manager of North Ferriby United.
Bolder has since been replaced by Luke Potter. Adam Sollitt also left his position as Matlock’s goalkeeping coach to take a coaching role at Alfreton Town. It’s not just the staff where wholesale changes have taken place.
The playing squad has had a complete overhaul with thirteen new additions being made in total since the new Gladiators manager took over. The two latest signings announced recently were Dan Bramall from Everton and Scott Smith on loan from Guiseley. Both will be looking to make an immediate impact within the starting eleven for this Saturday.
The 2019/20 campaign looks like a tough one in terms of predicting the Gladiators fortunes. Matlock only won one pre-season game over the summer but the amount of changes amongst the playing personnel has led to cautious optimism that they can at least improve on last season’s 15th position.