The message from manager Steve Kittrick to Matlock Town players, officials and fans is “don’t panic”.
The Gladiators boss was speaking after his old club Scarborough Athletic had inflicted a third successive defeat on his Matlock side, a run which after the outstanding win at high flying Whitby Town ten days earlier, never looked on.
Since that 3-0 win at the Turnbull Ground, a 3-1 defeat at Nantwich nine days ago was followed by a solitary goal loss at Lancaster City on Saturday before the Seadogs grabbed just their second win of the campaign by a 2-1 margin at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
Kittrick said it was an “in and out” show at Lancaster as he felt the Dolly Blues showed a greater desire than his side on the day. But after a complete ninety minutes performance at Whitby, Matlock have since failed to reach the heights of that performance.
“It was a complete 90 minute show at Whitby, at Nantwich we played well for around 80 of the 90 minutes, Lancaster we had the odd 10 minutes or so but could still have come home with something as it was a stonewall penalty to us near the end which we didn’t get,” said Kittrick.
“I can’t ever remember losing three on the bounce. I can’t put my finger on it except to say there’s been a lack of concentration, we’ve caused our own problems. Bu we have to look at this long term, get three points on Saturday and we’re right back in it.”
Reflecting further on the Scarborough loss, Kittrick added: “For long periods I thought we were the better team, especially in the last ten or so minutes of the first half and during the second half.
“We’d got back to 1-1 but the sending off has killed us, I’ve had a look at it and no way is it a red card. Piteu’s absolutely devastated and the more I think about it, the more it becomes apparent to me that the decision was totally wrong. Piteu’s not that type of lad, it was mistimed but not nasty.
“The referee’s got it wrong and not taken into account the lad’s momentum. I think we’ve got grounds for an appeal.”
Matlock’s performance picked up after the interval.
“Half time came at a bad time for us as we were getting on top,” said Kittrick. “We were a lot better in the second half and up to the sending off only one team looked like winning it. It goes without saying that I desperately wanted to win this game although I want to win every game we play.
“We still tried to get the win with a man less and our never say die attitude bodes well. We’ll regroup and train again on Thursday, we’ve got to get on with it. It was extremely frustrating, we had enough possession to win the game.”
Matlock are in the middle of a run of three home games in a row with Mickleover Sports in town on non-League day on Saturday before Warrington visit on Tuesday night.
Sports are currently in second spot and are probably the league’s surprise package so far this season. They have been a bogy side for Matlock over the years and this year have plenty of experience with former Football League players Pablo Mills, Lee Hughes and Stuart Beavon expected to face the Gladiators on Saturday.
“Mickleover have a lot of old heads who’ll get around the referee so he’ll need to be strong,” said Kittrick.
“Of course we need a result but we’ve got to make our own luck. The important message to everyone, players, officials and fans is not to panic, don’t worry as it’s a long season. Stay loyal to the cause as all the players are.
“We worked hard to get something on Tuesday. Everyone has to stay positive and we’ll get where we want to be.”
Midfielder Jack Rea picked up a groin injury in midweek and will need to be assessed before the Mickleover clash. But winger Dan Bramall has now completed his three match ban and may be back in the starting line up.