Atkins hails a ‘perfect week’

Massiah McDonald
Massiah McDonald

“It’s been a perfect week,” declared Matlock boss Mark Atkins after watching his side collect maximum points from two games to ease their perilous position at the bottom end of the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Last Saturday, a Joe Leesley brace was added to by an Adam Yates header as Town won 3-2 at fellow strugglers Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Then on Tuesday night, high flying visitors Chorley, third in the table before kick off, were beaten by Massiah McDonald’s first half winner with Matlock recording their first clean sheet of the season.

“An away win followed by another win and a clean sheet at home was just what the doctor ordered,” the Town chief added.

“It’s down to the players’ fantastic workrate and desire, which I’ve got to say had been lacking this season.”

Atkins had been seething after the home defeat by Eastwood Town in the run up to the six pointer at Stocksbridge.

“I went to watch Stocksbridge on the Tuesday and let Nick Buxton take both training sessions as I was angry with them all week.

“We needed to get a good result at Stocksbridge and after watching them I felt, despite them beating Rushall 3-0, there were a lot of weaknesses we could get at.

“Our plans came off, we played a different system with the young lads’ pace.

“I thought our three midfielders were really great and losing 3-2 flattered Stocksbridge. It could so easily have been 5-1 or 6-1 by the time they fluked their second goal.”

The Stocksbridge victory was perhaps expected, although it was disappointing to concede an early goal.

Again former Town players did their best to upset their old club’s applecart, as Nathan Joynes scored in the fourth minute with Chris Bettney grabbing Steels’ consolation eight minutes from the end.

Winning against Chorley has to be considered a shock result, even though just over 12 months previously, the Magpies came to the Reynolds Stadium riding high in the league but were thumped 4-0.

And Matlock had to do it without the services of their sick captain James Lukic and sick top scorer Lewis McMahon.

“It’s always difficult when people fall ill on the morning of games but the 14 players who turned out did everyone at the club proud and so I have a nice headache for Saturday,” said Atkins.

Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Leek Town visit in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.

“I’ve always said that if you’re playing well then you’ll keep the shirt so the lads who played tonight will have a great chance for Saturday, although it looks like I’ve got the odd enforced change.”

Central defender Oscar Radford will miss out due to being cup-tied after playing for Kettering in the last round.

So it looks as if Lukic will play alongside Adam Yates.

Martin Foster limped off against Chorley after turning an ankle, which hopefully will not prove to be troublesome.

Matlock have had Leek watched and will be keen to progress, particularly after the FA Cup debacle with Belper.

A replay, if needed, will take place at Harrison Park on Tuesday evening.

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Failing that, and if AFC Fylde win or lose their Trophy tie at home to Nantwich, the Gladiators will face the high flying Lancastrians at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday.

Former Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday full back John Beresford and comedian Josh Daniels will be appearing live at Matlock’s latest Sportsmans Dinner in the social Club tonight, (Thursday).

Beresford’s father, also John, played for Matlock in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Tickets and further information are available from chairman Tom Wright on 07850 065968.