Matlock Town got a massive win on Saturday and the fans earned the praise of manager Mark Atkins.
The 1-0 win against a rugged ten-man Rushall Olympic outfit came courtesy of a stoppage time penalty from new loan signing Lewis McMahon, and was only the Gladiators second in 12 league matches since the start of November.
Atkins said the win was thoroughly deserved. “It was tricky for us in the first half facing a strong wind.
“We’d talked about Rushall’s direct approach and the physical way they play. We knew we’d got to stand up to them and we did just that, they had just the one chance from our mistake.
“Then we had the best chance of the first half when Ben Algar got through and the keeper saved well. I was pleased with us at half time and the first half display gave us the confidence to go on and fully dominate the second half.
“The only question was whether we’d get the goal we deserved. Our attitude was first class and their goalkeeper’s pulled off three or four great saves.
“Sometimes in these circumstances you think it’s not going to be your day, but we carried on putting the ball in the right areas, eventually winning the penalty which got us our reward.”
Pre-match talk also centred around the fans getting behind the team and they didn’t disappoint.
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“It’s probably the first time since we’ve had the new stand and Social Club that we’ve heard the fans chant loudly and really get behind the players,” Atkins added.
“They were fantastic and we want to hear them be just as loud at future home games.”
It was a performance in total contrast to the dire showing in their previous home game when Ashton United took home all three points with a 2-0 victory.
“We were desperate for the win and we were relieved and pleased when the final whistle went,” Atkins admitted. “To be fair to the players their response since the poor Ashton performance has been fantastic, they’ve come back fighting and battling.
“We talked in great detail about that Ashton performance and the need to put things right. Everyone’s worked extremely hard.”
McMahon, 26, formerly with Sheffield Wednesday, where he made 25 first team appearances before switching to Notts County to play 29 times, is on loan at Matlock until March 31.
“We’d been looking for a certain type of striker for three to four months and we got a phone call from Gainsborough on Thursday morning saying he was available if we wanted him.
“I’ve got to thank the committee for making the funds available to bring him in. He held the ball up very well and worked very hard, considering he’s not played much recently.
“He’s been a regular at Conference North level, we’re pleased to have him and he’ll offer us something different in an attacking sense.”
Meanwhile winger Ben Hunter has followed former Gladiators striker Lee Morris to North Ferriby United.
After taking on FC United of Manchester at Stalybridge Celtic last night (Wednesday), the Gladiators have a free weekend, and are not in action again until Saturday week against Nantwich Town at the Reynolds Stadium.