Coach aiming to end side’s awayday blues

Tom Hooton, Matlock RFC
Tom Hooton, Matlock RFC

a WEEK’s break from league action has given Matlock RFC 1sts coach Alan Johnson the chance to reflect on the Midlands One East season so far, a campaign dogged by inconsistency and a string of recent injuries.

At home, Matlock have often been in devastating form, putting more than 60 points past Ilkeston, Nuneaton and Spalding, but away from home, it’s been a different story, with only one league win to show for their efforts.

Alan Johnson believes there are more positives than negatives to take out of the first 11 games, and currently occupying fifth place is certainly no disaster, but he is looking for his side to show plenty of grit to firstly ride out a period where injuries are biting into the squad, and also turn around their disappointing run on the road, starting this Saturday at Bedford Athletic.

He explained: “The injury situation is tough but it won’t always be that way, so we have to man up, not make excuses, get through it and keep going until January, when we hope some of those players will be back.

“The forwards are basically at full strength, except for Jonny Bunting who recently broke his leg, but in the backs it’s almost a case of ‘who can we fit in where’ and the fact we can’t seem to field the same side twice in a row is affecting us, particularly away.”

That poor away form is something Johnson feels has to be addressed soon or his side could find themselves languishing in midtable ahead of the business end of the season.

“It seems to boil down to our mental approach and is something we need to turn round soon. I think in some games we have gone there assuming we were going to win and, when things didn’t prove so easy, it set them back. “Some of them have been playing rugby since Year Seven and travelling away for 20 years in some cases, so it’s not something that should faze them, but it has done.

“But we have a brilliant bunch of lads here and injuries have allowed some who might not have had a big chance to show me what they can do. We’re playing the fluid, attacking rugby I want from us, we just have to ride out this tricky period to stay in contention.”

For a report on Saturday’s NLD Cup defeat to Newark, see page 31.