Friday night’s 2-1 home win against last season’s beaten Conference National play off semi finalists Grimsby Town was probably Matlock’s best performance of their pre season campaign to date, and should do wonders for confidence in the Matlock camp according to boss Mark Atkins.
It proved to be a barren return in terms of goals and result for former Gladiators goalscoring machine Ross Hannah, who was in the Mariners line up after recovering from a jaw injury.
A spectacular strike from trialist Ben Hutchinson gave Matlock the lead but Scott Neilson levelled to leave honours even at the interval before Leon Osborne scored for the third successive game to win the match for the hosts.
“I wouldn’t have been too bothered had we lost if the performance was up to scratch. Results don’t count for anything at this point but wins against teams like Grimsby can breed confidence. They’re a very good Conference National side who will do well in their league,” said Atkins.
“We looked very good, we defended well when we had to, we passed the ball well and created chances so overall it was a very enjoyable game for both us as a squad and the fans that came down to watch. Nobody looked out of place against a team of Grimsby’s calibre and that’s a big plus for us.”
The Grimsby victory came hot on the heels of Wednesday’s 3-1 home win against a Sheffield Wednesday eleven when the Gladiators got off to a lightening start with both Danny Holland and Osborne scoring inside the opening six minutes.
The Owls pulled one back just after the hour but almost immediately Oscar Radford restored the two goal margin.
Holland missed the Grimsby win with a hamstring injury and along with Micky Harcourt who picked up a knock on the ankle on Friday, was unlikely to have been risked in last night’s home clash with Mansfield.
On Saturday Matlock travel to Sandy Lane Worksop to take on Toolstation NCEL Premier Division Handsworth Parramore. Now at seven games into their pre season build up, Atkins’ team selection will now be focused more on the start of the league season at Trafford on August 16.
“There’s a couple of things I still want to look at but we’ll not be using as many players in games as we have done from Saturday onwards for we now need to start concentrating on building up to that first league game.”
Midfielder James Ashmore has yet to feature, but that first appearance could be soon after he received good news about his knee injury last week. “It’s not as bad as we all feared so he could be back within a couple of weeks which is great news,” Atkins added.
The Town chief confirmed four more new signings to add to those of Leon Osborne and Jason Stokes. Phil Roe has now signed on the dotted line to return after a season and a half at Worksop Town, while youngsters Alex Hewitt, Oliver Brock and Dean Freeman have also put pen to paper.
Hewitt, son of former Chesterfield full back and trainer Jamie Hewitt, along with Brock, both midfielders, were both with Chesterfield while defender Freeman was a member of the Barnsley under 18 squad.
“They came and asked for trials, they’ve never missed a training session nor a pre season match. I’ve been very impressed with their controlled performances and for me it was a no-brainer in getting them signed on. Now they’ve got to push on and challenge for a place in that match day squad.”
n Matlock Town’s home league clash with Barwell has been brought forward 24 hours to Friday, August 29.
Matlock Cricket Club’s second eleven have a home fixture on the Saturday so the Gladiators asked the Leicestershire side if they would visit the Autoworld Arena on the Friday.
“Barwell have kindly agreed to the changes,” said Gladiators Chief Executive Keith Brown.