Matlock Town boss Dave Frecklington admitted his side were in the wrong place at the wrong time after their 5-0 thumping at South Shields.
The South Tyneside outfit were just one place above the Gladiators prior to the kick off, but there looked to be a gulf between them in what proved to be a chastening 90 minutes for Frecklington’s men.
“We got beat by the better team, simple as” he said. “We were 100 per cent in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We came up against a South Shields side who have been on a journey for a few years now and have recruited fantastically well along the way. They played a team that has been put together over ten weeks.
“I don’t like making excuses but our preparation in the lead up to the game was far from ideal with the weather spoiling our training plans on both the Tuesday and Thursday on top of having no game on the previous Saturday.
“The break we had did us no favours. We didn’t defend well and were lucky it was only 5-0, our team needs to be working Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday.
“We’d lost our momentum, our edge and we came up against a team geared to get to the Football League, backed by a big crowd and it was Jak Fada day there, with them obviously keen to make it a day to remember for the family, all fully fit and raring to go.
“We had an off day and the unbeaten run was going to come to an end sooner or later at some time, I’d have rather it not happened in the way it did, but that’s football. You couldn’t fail to admire their football though.”
But Matlock, who were forced to make change due to injuries, did bounce back with a 2-1 win over Belper Town to progress to the semi-finals of the Derbyshire Senior Cup, where they will face either Alfreton Town or Buxton.
“When you’ve got to make changes you hope that those who haven’t been playing stake a claim,” added Frecklington.
“For long periods the lads were four, five or six out of ten when we were looking for eights and nines.
“Confidence had taken a hit, some looked leggy after the hard work of Saturday, it can be quite demoralising when you’ve put in the effort and been heavily beaten.
“Defensively on Tuesday we were much better, Dwayne Wiley and Brad Beatson took the brunt of the criticism on Saturday but were both excellent.
“It was Lee Beevers and Tom Davie’s first starts for a long while and Jordan Pierrepont came into the goal, so three of the back five hadn’t played recently or together. Jordan was man of the match, he won us the tie with those excellent saves.”
“Belper came here with nothing to fear , they’d everything to gain and nothing to lose.
“They’re an up and at you team and having gone 1-0 down I was delighted that the lads showed massive character to win through.
“Luke Hinsley was excellent when he came off the bench, he scored a cracking goal and Marshy got us the winner. Cup football is all about getting through, we did it and have a semi-final to look forward to.
“The crowd were unhappy at half-time which in a way pleases me because expectations have gone through the roof, it shows the progress we’ve made, weeks ago that would have been accepted. To get the win was really important.
“Since the home game against South Shields our home record is very good, we haven’t lost and won all but two. We want to make Causeway Lane a fortress.”