Boss Dave Frecklington says his players have ten games to prove they a worth a place in his future plans.
Frecklington was hugely disappointed in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against a limited Grantham Town outfit who scored from their only two strikes at goal.
Results since Christmas have been on a downward curve, with just a win and a draw from eight league games played in 2019.
“It’s going to be a ten game season to look at things and see who we want for next season,” he said.
“It’s been a long old trek this season, we went on that long unbeaten run which raised all of our expectations, we’ve had injury after injury, players have come in and players have gone. The simple thing is the players need to step up, as do we as a management team, we’ll see who wants to be here and who doesn’t.”
Bottom-of-the-table North Ferriby United visit the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday.
The Villagers have won just two of their thirty three league games so far, Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss at Farsley Celtic being their twelfth defeat on the trot, and are 19 points adrift of second bottom Workington.
“It’s an absolutely must win game but we all know there’ll probably be one game where they’ll get something out of it, so we need to guard against that,” Frecklington added. “They worked really really hard against Gainsborough last Saturday, it won’t be easy but it’s a game we’ll be expected to win. We really need the three points on Saturday.”
The match at North Ferriby on October 2 was the catalyst for Matlock’s rapid rise up the league table. The Gladiators were stuck at the bottom of the league going into the game but a 5-2 win injected some belief and confidence into the Matlock side who only lost one more league game at South Shields, before the festive period.
Frecklington and the Town fans will be hoping for another positive result on Saturday to hopefully begin another unbeaten sequence.
They will certainly have to be more clinical than they were at Grantham, plus they need to keep their concentration in defence.
“It was a galling defeat for me personally and I know Terry (Fleming) and Chris (Rawlinson) felt the same,” said Frecklington.
“It was always going to be a scrappy affair against a team with no ambition to go forward. There was only one team looking to win it. We missed some good chances and then disappointingly we switch off.
!There’s enough experience in this team, we shouldn’t be conceding goals like that. We kept knocking on the door but couldn’t break through and we weren’t solid and aggressive enough to keep the back door shut. It was similar to the results at Lancaster and Witton but I learned a lot on Saturday about this group and individuals.”
Frecklington admits recent results have not been good enough.
He added: “We expect certain standards at this football club, hard work and commitment is a given, players are expected to give everything, both for their selves and the football club.
“But we need to be better, we haven’t shown enough quality and resilience. Results say everything so it’s time we started showing what we’re all about.”
With Craig King and Jordan Chapell both on the injured list, Matlock have lacked quality in the wide positions in the last couple of performances.
“At some point this season everyone has been out with an injury, it’s very rare you get that,” he added.
“We like to play 4-4-2 with two good wide players but losing both Craig and Jordan hasn’t helped us.
“We haven’t got good balance at the moment so it’s something I’ll be looking to address this week if I can.
“I’ll try and bring in a wide player if at all possible. We played the diamond formation at Hyde and won and we’d have wanted to carry that on but we were forced to make changes.”
The latest casualty report offers Frecklington a little, but not a lot more encouragement for the final few weeks of the campaign.
King won’t be able to train for another five to six weeks. Greg Tempest returned to the team after injury at Grantham but after being fouled, rolled an ankle. He will be assessed this week but Frecklington fears he may be out for two to three weeks. Long term injury victim Cleveland Taylor has resumed light training and Chapell hopes to train this week with an eye to being available this weekend.