Atkins sets the record straight

Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager
Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager

An upset Mark Atkins wants to put the record straight after he was sent off in the dying moments of Matlock’s 1-1 draw at Stocksbridge on Saturday.

Following an ugly late clash which saw the scorer of Matlock’s 89th minute equaliser, TJ Nightingale, kicked in the head by a home player and Nightingale sent off for retaliation which saw many of the players and members of each dugout confront each other, Eccles official Barry Lamb ordered Atkins to the stands.

“When I asked the referee what I’d got sent off for, he told me it was for my part in the melee in throwing bodies around.

“I never got involved, I remained in the dugout, anyone who was there will tell you that.

“I’ve got witnesses and I plan to clear my name.”

Atkins was further incensed by some press reports at the weekend that he had got sent off for using foul and abusive language.

“That just isn’t true and I want people to know that.

“It’s hurtful to be accused of things by people who are not sure of their facts.”

Atkins, though, admitted that disciplinary issues are causing problems for his side, a fact which will rear its ugly head in Saturday’s home meeting with Rushall Olympic when skipper James Lukic misses out, along with defender Lee Featherstone, who begins a two-game ban for his red card in the recent home defeat by Hednesford.

“It’s causing us problems because the bans seem to be all coming at once.

“Bookings and sendings off for dissent aren’t acceptable, we have a disciplinary code for these offences and players have been fined.

“They must take full responsibility.” he rapped.

Oscar Radford, who has remained with the Gladiators for a third month on loan from Doncaster Rovers, may be fit enough to slot into Lukic’s boots.

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fter a hamstring injury picked up in the 4-0 defeat at Chester on November 19.

But Micky Harcourt has suffered a reaction in training and his hamstring problem could keep him out for two or three more weeks. Kris Witcombe will be out for a similar period with a damaged shoulder.

Atkins says it is high time Matlock started winning games.

“We had the ideal chance at Stocksbridge, but we were very poor in the first half. We were better without being brilliant in the second half and a draw was about fair, but we should be beating teams like these. The goalkeeper and back four emerged with credit in the first half but the other six let themselves and the team down. we had lads out of position but that team should have been good enough to win the game.”

Disappointment followed on Tuesday as New Mills, one step below Town in the non-league pyramid, secured an extra time Derbyshire Senior Cup win by the odd goal in three.

Nightingale’s fourth goal in the last three matches had put Matlock in front but the Gladiators missed a barrowload of chances which proved to be costly.

Now they will hope that Rushall will feel the backlash on Saturday as they seek a first league win in seven outings. Four of this sequence have ended all-square, making them the draw specialists with ten shares of the spoils in league fare.

Atkins has added youth team striker James Whitfield to his first team squad after the 17 year old impressed him in Matlock’s FA Youth Cup run.