Manager Mark Hume insists it’s still very much a work in progress as he continues building his Matlock Town squad after a little over a year in charge.
Home draws against Marine and Nantwich Town this week leave the Gladiators in mid table and he admits that his side are “not the full shebang” yet.
“We’re a little short of being a top side, I’m not daft,” he said. “I know what we need, we must strengthen down the spine of the side, a striker, central midfielder and a central defender, we’re okay in the wide areas, but I also believe that this squad of players we have now should be, even if they eventually don’t, be pushing for those play-offs.
“There’s fourteen games left yet, but as far as the squad goes, it’s still work in progress, it was asking a lot of a side were in big danger of going down at one point last season, being right up there at the top this year.
“Where we finished last season was a bonus. We’re bringing players in bit by bit, we’re building a squad and that takes time. Judge us then.”
The Marine and Nantwich matches brought contrasting performances from Matlock.
He added: “The only positive against Marine was the clean sheet, the defence is starting to look a lot stronger but we missed our chances although Danny Holland was unfortunate with the one which hit the post.
“Against Nantwich, man for man everyone did a very good job, we looked good going forward even with only ten men and Tom Burgin and Adam Yates in the centre of our defence were both absolutely magnificent.
“There’s no doubt Nantwich are up there with the Blyths Darlingtons and Workingtons, they’re a very good side so it was a very good result for us and we could even have won it.”
The 1-1 draw against a full strength Nantwich, challenging for a play-off place and also through to the FA Trophy quarter finals was especially pleasing as Matlock had to play for a little over half of the contest with only ten men after Nicky Travis was sent off in a clash with Matty Kosylo who escaped unpunished, a ruling which Hume was not happy with.
“Their lad’s backbutted Trav in the face, the officials got it wrong in sending just one player off,” Hume said. “It’s either none or both of them, but credit to our lads who did everything we asked of them and were magnificent. Danny’s unlucky when he hit the bar and there were one or two other situations we might have made better use of.”
Having again played well against one of the leading sides, the enigma of producing the goods against the struggling clubs again presents itself on Saturday when the Gladiators travel to relegation threatened Stamford.
“I make it we’ve dropped 2 points against teams who have been 18th or below so even if we’d got just ten of those it would have made a significant difference,” said Hume.
“You see a performance like the Nantwich one this week and you’d ask why I’m looking for players, but we’ve got to be performing like that against the other sides.”
The Matlock boss will be forced into changes for the weekend with Adam Yates serving a one match ban following his sending off at Marine a fortnight ago and Laurie Wilson’s accumulation of bookings meaning he misses both the Stamford clash and the home meeting with Stourbridge on Tuesday night.
Ben Algar damaged a hamstring last weekend and will be out again.
Hume sensibly resisted the temptation of bringing back Micky Harcourt during the last week with this in mind and a couple of loan signings could be made as cover.
Striker Jake Orrell, whose loan from Chesterfield has been extended, is also likely to be in the squad.