Matlock boss Mark Atkins was full of praise for his side despite a narrow home defeat to table topping Chester last Saturday.
“After the game, I told them that if they could show the same commitment and drive in the remaining games of the season, we’d finish in the top half of the table” said Atkins.
The Gladiators dominated the opening half and were unlucky not to be in front at the interval, and Chester’s winner came from an uncharacteristic mistake by goalkeeper Jon Kennedy.
“Jon’s taken responsibility for the goal. He told James Lukic to leave the ball but their striker’s got in between them to head in.
“I’m not sure he knows quite how he’s scored but it was a disappointing way to lose.
“Jon’s played superbly for us this season though.
“I was very pleased with the way we went about our work. We knew we couldn’t give them time or space and for three quarters of the game we did very well.
“Our workrate was first class, we were disappointed not to be in the lead at half time.
“It was a great strike from Kris Bowler which hit the bar and Paul Riley really meant it with his follow up, which the goalkeeper’s saved superbly.
“There were a couple of other good opportunities as well.
“In the end their extra bit of quality told. It was a pity about the mistake. Without that we might even have gone on and won the game.”
Now Matlock have six matches left, starting with a local derby at Worksop on Saturday.
The Gladiators are now nearly six months without an away victory but Atkins insists that neither he nor his squad are thinking too much about that record.
n Continued on page 39
Just the two away wins have been gained at struggling Frickley and Burscough, the latter one being as long ago as September 3.
“Other people keep mentioning it but it’s something that neither the players nor me are getting that concerned about. Of course we want to win every game we play and we’ll be going all out to win on Saturday. “
Worksop are currently in 15th spot, three points and three places behind the Gladiators and their lowly position surprises Atkins.
The Tigers have lost their last three games, conceding 11 goals and have lost their previous five home league games, a statistic which could give the Gladiators heart as they look to end their long winless sequence on the road.
“With the players Worksop were bringing in at the start of the season, I thought they’d be right up there challenging at the top of the table. But for one reason or another it hasn’t worked out for them, these things happen. They’ve got some good players and we’re going to have to be wary of the threat they possess so it’ll be another hard match.”
Striker Lewis McMahon will be returning to Gainsborough Trinity after Saturday’s game and Atkins plans no major moves in the transfer market prior to the deadline, which is 5pm today (Thursday).
“Gainsborough have some important games so they want him back. He’s done very well for us with important goals to get us wins. There’s a couple of young lads we’ve got on trial that we’ll probably bring in to boost the squad but we’re looking at the budget situation as that money could be used next season.”
On the injury front, Gareth Davies needs another week before returning to training while top scorer Ian Holmes, who missed last weekend’s game with a side injury sustained at Chasetown, may be fit enough to return at Worksop.
Full back Micky Harcourt’s season is over with a broken metatarsal.