Gladiators: Matlock Town prepare for North Ferriby United test


Having won their first Saturday home league game of the season a fortnight ago against Grantham, Matlock will be looking to add another Saturday victory on home soil this weekend.

League leaders North Ferriby United, managed by former Gladiators skipper Billy Heath, and likely to include ex Town midfield favourite Liam King, are in town, currently four points clear of second placed Hednesford Town, but having played two games more than the Pitmen.

That 3-2 win over the Gingerbreads kept Matlock in 17th spot but put more daylight between them, the Lincolnshire side and the other clubs in and around the drop zone.

The arctic weather could yet intervene again. Town have lost their last three scheduled matches to the elements, with the postponement of the Derbyshire Senior Cup home clash with Borrowash Victoria being quickly followed by last Saturday’s league trip to Hednesford and the Doodson Sports League Cup home tie with Carlton Town on Tuesday.

A thaw is expected at the weekend but the big question is whether it will come soon enough to rid the Reynolds Stadium surface of the snow and ice which currently covers the arena.

Atkins said: “The weather’s been a problem for the grass surface we usually use, it has been covered in snow and unfit to use.”

“We’ve had to train inside but managed to use an outside five a side facility on Tuesday. It’s been a case of getting things done the best we can.”

The manager wants his side to build on the Grantham win but acknowledges that The Humbersiders will be tough opponents.

Yet the Gladiators will be encouraged by their fine performance in a narrow 2-1 away defeat to the table toppers in October, and Atkins has hinted his side want revenge.

“Our home form hasn’t been as good as we would all have liked for whatever reason, but now we must try and pick up as many points as we can to move up the table as fast as we can.

“It’s always good to challenge a top of the league side, Ferriby have changed things around considerably and have brought in a lot of good players with the money they’ve had at their disposal which has put them in a strong position at the top.

“But we played very well up there and Liam King admitted that the better side lost. We should have won comfortably but unfortunately we didn’t. If we play our way and play well then we’re capable of beating them,” he said.

It will be King’s first return to his old stamping ground following his summer move.

Atkins added: “You can never take away from what Liam did for us while he was here, he was consistently one of our best players, a mainstay of the side, he was excellent and we wish him all the best after Saturday.”

At least the bad weather has given the trio of players suffering from injury the opportunity to recover with James Ashmore, Adam Yates and Lewis McMahon all training on Tuesday night.

All should be in the frame to face Ferriby as should Ben Hunter who returned to Matlock from the Villagers earlier this month.

Matlock face Borrowash on Tuesday and welcome Ashton United for a league game on Saturday week. The Carlton tie has been rearranged for Tuesday February 12, meaning that the home game with AFC Fylde due to be played then, will be given a fresh slot.