Atkins delighted with victory at Blyth

Action from the clash between Blyth Spartans and Matlock Town last weekend.
Action from the clash between Blyth Spartans and Matlock Town last weekend.

Matlock boss Mark Atkins praised both his squad and the Gladiators supporters following a first ever win against Blyth Spartans at Croft Park last weekend.

Goals from Danny Holland and Corey Gregory gave Town a two-goal lead before Blyth pulled one back, while Gareth Davies was controversially sent off to leave the visitors a man down for the final 13 minutes plus a further staggering eight minutes of stoppage time.

Atkins said: “We were excellent and fully deserved the three points.

“It’s a difficult place to go and given the circumstances the result is even more outstanding because at the end we had nine fit players with Joe Leesley struggling to carry on through injury.

“So the players deserve the utmost credit for battling through and winning the game.”

Matlock suffered a pre-match blow when full-back Micky Harcourt damaged a hamstring in the warm up, so Davies stepped into the number two shirt, leaving the Gladiators with just four substitutes.

Then more ill-fortune came their way when leading scorer Daryll Thomas picked up ca leg injury after setting up the opening goal for Holland and was forced off, as was skipper Liam Needham in the closing minutes.

“Everything seemed to go against us,” added Atkins.

“We had all the injuries to deal with, a goal incorrectly disallowed and then all of the refereeing decisions went against us.

“The penalty Blyth got was highly dubious but it lifted them and got them back into a game we were in control of, and as for Gareth Davies’ sending off and the extra time at the end, that was ridiculous.

“Blyth got a lot of help in getting back into the match but I was very proud of each and every one of our lads.”

Atkins reckons that Danny Holland scoring his first goal for the club since his return will do the striker the world of good.

He said: “I’m really pleased for him as he’s been excellent in the way he’s led the line and used his experience to encourage the younger players. He’s been great in the changing room.

“Not scoring before now hasn’t been an issue for him or us but any striker likes to find the net and we hope it’s the first of many for him.”

A small band of fans made the long journey to Northumberland for Saturday’s clash and certainly made themselves heard.

Atkins added: “The players and staff want to thank them for their great backing.

“It was fantastic to see and hear them support us so well and we all really appreciate it.”

Matlock’s run of away fixtures continued after the Mercury went to press with a trip to Ashton United last night (Wednesday), where Micky Harcourt was definitely ruled out and the likes of Daryll Thomas. Joe Leesley and Liam Needham required fitness checks.

That left manager Mark Atkins hoping for no further knocks ahead of another tough assignment on the road at joint leaders AFC Fylde on Saturday before they finally return home to face Chorley on Tuesday evening.

Atkins said: “It’ll be very difficult at Fylde but in the last four games we’ve done very well, there’s been good individual performances and good team performances showing we’ve got tremendous team spirit which we’ll need on Saturday.”

Hopes that current player of the year Adam Yates could feature at Blyth after a leg injury were dashed and it seems his return will be further delayed until a blood clot behind his muscle has disappeared.

Meanwhile, Matlock will visit NCEL Premier Division new boys Basford United in the FA Cup first qualifying round on Saturday, September 14.

The Nottingham-based club, who have former Gladiator TJ Nightingale in their ranks, beat Quorn on penalties in Tuesday night’s replay after a 2-2 draw at Basford in the first tie.