Boss is still looking to strengthen squad

Lee Whittington, Matlock Town
Lee Whittington, Matlock Town

The striking department could be a little short as Matlock visit bottom club Burscough at Skelmersdale United’s ground on Saturday.

Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale, who scored the second goal, came off after 48 minutes of the Gladiators’ 2-1 home win over Mickleover Sports on Monday night.

He has a knee injury and the extent of it is not yet clear, but the problem was compounded as late last week the Gladiators loaned out Nathan Joynes to Ossett Town and Lee Whittington, who replaced Nightingale, collided with Sports goalkeeper Ali Barcherini late in the game and collected a knock to his leg.

Thankfully, leading scorer Ian Holmes, who netted both goals in the 2-2 draw at Marine last weekend, is fit and well, but at this stage manager Mark Atkins has no firm plans to bring another forward into the squad.

“TJ’s knee was sore afterwards and at present it’s a case of monitoring the situation to see how he is. Obviously we’re hoping it’s not too serious and we’ll know more later in the week so there’s no point in jumping to any conclusions,” said Atkins.

“Nathan Joynes had the opportunity to go to Ossett for two or three weeks with the sole intention of getting some games in. He’d missed a lot of the pre-season with a hamstring injury and having come on as a substitute for us in one or two games, felt he was off the pace. Hopefully, a few games at Ossett will resolve the issue. He’ll definitely be coming back to us.

“Lee Whittington took a knock late on so really it’s sod’s law if TJ is out for any period of time,” added Atkins. “But I’m not planning to bring in any extra attackers at this stage as we have other players who can fit into the system we play. That said, I’m still looking to strengthen the squad.”

Winger Ryan Mallon departed the Reynolds Stadium to join Frickley late last week, but this was countered by Ben Algar’s international clearance coming through, enabling him to feature as a substitute at Marine, before replacing thigh injury victim Lee Featherstone against Mickleover.

Atkins was satisfied with four out of six points.

“We’d have taken that beforehand although after starting so well and then going ahead in the second half it was disappointing not to beat Marine. But then Marine win 2-1 at Chorley on Monday so maybe it was a good result.

“We lacked the killer instinct to finish the game off but we must also give the opposition some credit. Then we worked hard against Mickleover and could have been three up before they got into our half.”

Atkins again reminded players and fans that there are no easy games in the league as they prepare for Burscough and struggling Stafford Rangers at home on Wednesday.

“We’re looking to win every game. Just because Burscough and Stafford have started poorly, it doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a hard game.”

He added: “We’ve got to attack and be positive. We’ve been excellent going forward in the last two away games, but I don’t expect anything else but a tough match.”

n Gareth Davies is suspended from Saturday’s trip to take on Burscough after picking up a red card against Kendal.