Matlock Town will be looking to make it four games unbeaten on Saturday afternoon as they head to Lincolnshire to play Grantham Town in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.

The Gladiators come into this tie after recent victories over Quorn and Stafford Rangers plus an entertaining 2-2 draw against Basford United. This is a good opportunity for Matlock to reach the next stage of the FA Cup and, if they were to, would get the chance of playing higher-tier opposition with just two qualifying rounds to overcome before the First Round Proper of the oldest cup competition in the sport.

The Opposition

Grantham Town are fellow members of the NPL Premier Division and were formed way back in 1874. The Lincolnshire outfit play their home games in Grantham at the South Kesteven Sports Stadium. This is a very distinctive ground in this division as it has an athletics track around the pitch. In normal circumstances, the ground can hold up to 7,500 people with a seated capacity of 750.

The club are managed by former Buxton and Ilkeston Town manager Martin McIntosh. The 49 year old Scotsman also had experience in Derbyshire during his playing career as he made appearances for Alfreton Town. McIntosh became the Gingerbreads manager in March of this year.

Grantham Town had a difficult 2019/20 campaign and were in nineteenth position in the NPL Premier Division when the league season was officially cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team had also played several more league games at this point than Atherton Collieries and the Gladiators themselves who were directly below them, so the Gingerbreads were staring right into a relegation dogfight.

The Gingerbreads currently lie in eighteenth position at this very early stage of the NPL Premier Division campaign after securing two points from their first three league games. In their most recent league game, the Gingerbreads drew 1-1 at home against Stafford Rangers with John Holland getting on the scoresheet for Grantham. In the FA Cup First Qualifying Round, Grantham required penalties to knock out Rushall Olympic at home following a 2-2 draw after ninety minutes.

Grantham Town have gone all the way to the FA Cup Third Round on three separate occasions. The last of these runs arrived in the 1973-74 season whereas the first two occurred way back in the 1883-84 and 1886-87 campaigns. Grantham’s biggest victory in their history came in this competition. The Gingerbreads defeated Rufford Colliery 13-0 in the Preliminary Round stage back in 1934. Grantham’s highest ever home attendance also came in the FA Cup. In the FA Cup Third Round during their excellent 1973-74 cup run, the Gingerbreads were rewarded with a home tie against Middlesbrough. The game attracted a crowd of 6,578.

The Gingerbreads haven’t won a trophy since 2012. In that year, Grantham Town won the NPL Division One South league title as well as the Lincolnshire County Shield.

One to Watch

Thirty-one year old midfielder James Berrett will be a key player to look out for in Saturday’s game. Berrett was born in Halifax and has played for the likes of Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United, Yeovil Town and Grimsby Town. During his time at Carlisle United, Berrett won the Football League Trophy at Wembley Stadium in 2011. Berrett has strong Irish links and has represented the Republic of Ireland at U18, U19 and U21 level. Berrett joined the Gingerbreads in June 2019 from FC Halifax Town.

Team News

Jon Stewart, Callum Chippendale and Nathan Whitehead will all still be unavailable due to injury. Nathan Valentine is also unlikely to appear anywhere in the match day squad as he is regaining his fitness. Craig King could well be in line to return to the squad after his injury.

Kade Coppin is suspended following the two yellow cards he received during the 2-0 league victory over Stafford Rangers last weekend.

Loan signing Jake Hull could be in line to make his Gladiators debut. Defender Lewis Turner has left the Gladiators to join Scarborough Athletic.

Previous Meeting

The last time these two sides met was a memorable affair as the game was abandoned midway through the second half due to heavy fog. On November 30 last year, the Gingerbreads hosted the Gladiators in a league encounter and Matlock found themselves 2-1 up thanks to two goals from Piteu Crouz. It would have been a hugely important three points for Matlock but unfortunately the game was officially abandoned after around 63 minutes of the game played. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the fog was so bad that it was genuinely becoming impossible to see from one end of the pitch to the other and the referee had no choice but to stop the game. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic halting the 2019/20 season before the re-arranged match could take place, this game never reached a resolution.

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