Atkins thrilled ahead of derby test

Danny Holland (left) gets forward against Skelmersdale United on Saturday. Holland scored an impressive late winner and then scored two more in the 4-1 win over Grantham on Tuesday
Danny Holland (left) gets forward against Skelmersdale United on Saturday. Holland scored an impressive late winner and then scored two more in the 4-1 win over Grantham on Tuesday
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Manager Mark Atkins has hailed a fantastic three days for Matlock Town and praised his players and the club’s fans in the process.

If ever a team showed “bouncebackability” then the Gladiators did after they returned from Rushall Olympic with their tails between their legs after a 6-1 humbling.

Last Saturday, Matlock dented second in the table Skelmersdale United’s title challenge with a 2-1 victory, despite playing for a little over two thirds of the contest with just ten men following Shaun Tuton’s controversial red card in the 26th minute.

Then the Gladiators secured their best home win of the season, and a fifth win on the trot on their own territory with a 4-1 win against Grantham Town at the Autoworld Arena.

The six goals scored were shared equally between twin strikers Danny Holland and Tuton.

“It’s been fantastic, we said we needed to get six points from the two games and this was stressed to the players but the way they went about it was first class, they showed tremendous fitness levels,” said a delighted Atkins.

The Town supremo agreed that the Skelmersdale result will live long in the memory.

He added: “It was a once a season game. We started really well before Shaun scored a very good goal to deservedly put us in the lead. His sending off was very very harsh, he had no intention of hurting the lad and was just trying to block the ball but we’ll have to live with it.”

“Our reaction up to half-time was okay even though they equalised but at half time I felt we had a good chance of winning, so we went two up front and played three in midfield to take the game to them and the players executed it brilliantly.”

Ironically the game against la lower-placed Grantham proved to be more challenging.

“They’re a big strong side who battled hard,” added Atkins.

“We cleared two off the line in the first half so you could say overall a 4-1 win flattered us somewhat, even though we deserved all three points.

“Everyone in the dressing room commented about how the crowd had got behind the players so we’d all like to thank the fans for their tremendous backing and hope it continues.”

It’s derby day for the Gladiators on Saturday with a trip to local rivals Ilkeston FC and a third league double of the campaign in prospect.

Both sides were in the play-off picture last October when a late Danny Holland goal earned Matlock all three points at the Autoworld Arena, and while Matlock have fared rather better in league action since then, manager Mark Atkins says there can be no room for complacency.

“We’ve got a way of playing that suits us, five home wins on the trot says that, but we must be really wary that complacency doesn’t set in as it did in the second-half at Rushall,” he said.

“We want to go there, play well and win the game but Ilkeston have some good players and if we perform poorly we’ll come unstuck.

“Our attitude and preparation must be right again, and if so we’ll be looking to edge nearer to that top five.”