Can Tuesday night’s crucial win over Frickley be the catalyst for an upturn in Matlock Town’s fortunes?
The 3-1 success was massive and in the end deserved, according to Gladiators’ boss Mark Atkins. It gives the whole club a boost ahead of Saturday’s home FA Cup derby with Belper Town.
There were signs of improvement in the single-goal defeat at Stafford Rangers last weekend. Matlock dominated but could not stick away their chances and were punished for one slack moment in defence when Simon Everall was allowed a free header to score.
“We were very unlucky to lose on Saturday but if you don’t take the chances which come your way, including two fantastic ones from close range headers, and give the lad time and space to bury a simple header, then you get punished. But I was far happier with the performance even though it was a bad result,” said Atkins.
Atkins praised his team’s commitment as Frickley certainly did not lie down and accept defeat in midweek.
“It’s always a battle against Frickley and it was a game where two teams were struggling for form and results. We were desperate for a win and had to work very hard for it. We defended very well, people were prepared to throw their bodies in the way of shots, they were committed to trying to keep a clean sheet which unfortunately we didn’t quite manage. After being on the receiving end in the first half, we pushed on in the second and had far more chances, we had far more of the ball. At the end of the day, we deserved the win.”
Matlock’s only goals prior to Tuesday came at Frickley a fortnight earlier when Lewis McMahon and Joe Leesley scored. McMahon scored a brace and Leesley again found the target this time.
Atkins said: “Our more experienced players stood up to be counted. Lewis McMahon was outstanding in central midfield even though it’s not his position and he’s come up with two goals. The likes of Jon Kennedy, James Lukic, Adam Yates and Martin Foster have also been excellent, but I can’t fault the effort and workrate of anyone.”
18-year old Derby County loanee Kane Richards, along with 20-year-old striker Shaun Tuton from Teversal and Kevin (Danny) Deakin all made their debuts at Stafford as Atkins was forced to add to his squad in the midst of an injury crisis robbing him of over half of his first team squad.
Saturday’s cup meeting with Belper could feature as many as four former Gladiators. Midfielders Steve Warne, Colin Marrison and Simon Harrison, together with winger Ryan Mallon could all be in the Nailers’ side.
Atkins is still looking to boost his squad, although he feels any additions before the weekend will be unlikely due to clubs not wanting to release players with the FA Cup fresh in their thinking.
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“I’m currently looking at two loan deals and have put seven days notice in on a player which ends next Tuesday. We need to focus fully on this FA Cup tie, Belper will give us a tough game but hopefully even with all our injury problems we’ll have enough to see us through” Atkins concluded.
If a replay is necessary it will be at Christ Church Meadow on Tuesday night.