Atkins still upbeat despite defeats

Matlock Town v Stafford Rangers (black), visiting keeper Jones denies Danny Holland
Matlock Town v Stafford Rangers (black), visiting keeper Jones denies Danny Holland

Two costly defeats in three days seem to have scuppered Matlock’s play-off aspirations, but manager Mark Atkins insists there is still plenty to play for.

Few would have envisaged struggling Stafford Rangers inflicting just a second home defeat on Matlock at the Autoworld Arena on Saturday with a 2-0 win, before the Gladiators went down to the only goal of the game in a scrappy contest at Stamford on Tuesday.

Matlock missed a host of chances against Stafford and with it the power and penetration suspended striker Shaun Tuton might have brought to the party, having netted eight times in the Gladiators previous five league outings.

Now co-striker Danny Holland faces a four match ban following his second red card of the season at Stamford, although Tuton will be back by the time Holland’s ban commences.

Holland was sent off after a 34th minute altercation with Alvin Jarvis, who was later voted Stamford’s man of the match..

It all led to feelings of frustration for Atkins.

He said: “We played really well in the opening 30 or so minutes against Stafford, and if one chance had gone in early on then I think we’d have scored three or four.

“Then Stafford got their chance from the penalty, caused by us not breaking up their move quickly enough and after playing well we found ourselves up against it.

“We still dominated the second-half but not at full pelt, their second goal being down to bad defending.

“They had two chances and scored both, we had probably ten and didn’t, so it was one of those days.

“Then at Stamford they’ve scored from their first and maybe only real chance, then Danny’s got sent off.

“But with ten men we were the better side, only we didn’t create all that much but our effort and determination was first class.”

On Holland’s red card, Atkins added: “Danny’s admitted he pushed the lad in the face but the linesman hasn’t mentioned their lad smacking Danny in the face first and as an official at this level you need to ensure you see the whole situation.

“I’m not condoning what Danny did but both players should have gone and if they’re both off I’m pretty sure we’d have gone on to win the game.”

Now Matlock make a first ever trip to Barwell on Saturday before facing Rushall Olympic at the Autoworld Arena on Tuesday night.

Atkins added: “There are still ten games to go and 30 points to play for, so even if the play-offs are beyond us, we’ll strive to finish as high as we can.”