Atkins pleased with early signs

Mark Atkins
Mark Atkins

Manager Mark Atkins declared himself pleased with Matlock’s pre-season preparations so far after their 2-1 victory at Teversal in their opening friendly fixture on Tuesday night.

“The lads look fit, they’ve done what we asked them to do, they’re sharp and they’re playing the ball around a lot more, different to last season,” said Atkins.

Ball retention was a prominent feature of Matlock’s first half display at Caernarvon Street with neat build-up play leading to the creation of a number of good scoring opportunities.

Matlock, with James Ashmore and an experienced trialist midfielder prominent, should have been out of sight by the interval instead of drawing 1-1.

“We played very well in the first half when you’d expect that we’d be a bit rusty and we were well in control. They scored from their first real opportunity. The second half went downhill a bit, but importantly just about everyone got about 45 minutes and that’s a good stepping stone to them getting full fitness. It was good to get the new lads in a Matlock shirt.”

The downside came with Micky Harcourt taking a knock on the same foot which saw him miss the run-in at the end of last season, this being one of three injury concerns for Atkins.

“Micky took a bang on top of that same foot so we’ll have to see what comes from that. And Liam Wilkin has bruised lungs following his rib injury which means at present he can’t do any fitness work or stand any contact.”

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He goes to the doctors’ next week, so he’ll have to take his time,” Atkins explained.

Wilkin himself is worried he might be out for a while, which is a personal blow as he is hoping to establish himself in the Gladiators’ forward line this term.

Skipper James Lukic has an ankle injury and, with Harcourt’s new knock, coupled with Lukic being suspended for the first three league games, Ryan Laight, who was with Matlock in 2008-09 has rejoined the Gladiators after a spell at Ossett Town.

Matlock head to Shirebrook for their next friendly on Saturday before hosting Chesterfield in the annual Banner Jones cup game on Tuesday evening (7.45 pm).

“Most people will get 45 minutes again on Saturday with a couple of under 19s involved at some stage, plus one or two trialists.

“Then against Chesterfield I’ll play those I feel are most up to speed with fitness and ball work,” the Town chief continued.

n Matlock Town Reserves are preparing hard for their Central Midlands League Supreme Reserve Division campaign and are on the lookout for a tracksuit sponsor. Any interested individual or company should contact Brian Startin on 07508 270448.