New Matlock Town boss Dave Hoole was minutes away from celebrating his first game in charge with a win, only for play-off chasing Shaw Lane to score two late on to seal an unlikely comeback.
Hoole, who was officially appointed Gladiators manager on Friday after a successful caretaker period, said there was much in the performance to encourage him with the 2018/19 campaign in mind.
“We dominated for long periods, they were strong but very direct and I thought we coped quite well with that,” said Hoole.
“But we still played our game, passing the ball very well on a very bad pitch. We created some good chances and then got our goal.
“We knew they’d throw the kitchen sink at us then for they simply had to, they needed the three points and were hoping results would go for them elsewhere.
“Unfortunately we just faltered at the end, there were some tired legs out there and to be fair they scored with two decent headers. The result was disappointing but I was delighted with our performance.”
Hoole was less happy with the officials with an astonishing nine minutes being added at the end.
“I was disappointed with the referee who indicated six minutes of added time but ended up playing nine, why I just don’t know,” he said.
“I was none too pleased but you’d hope things even themselves out over a season but there was no chance of that with it being the last game of the season.
“But that’s football, we’ll regroup now and we’ll look back on the game having seen a lot more positives than negatives.
“We outplayed them and the lads have been excellent in turning things around showing they can compete with some of the best in the division so things look bright going forward.”
One of the positives was a full league debut for sixteen years old Zak Brunt who came into the Gladiators midfield for fellow Academy player Harry Wood who was on the bench.
“He’s probably the most comfortable 16-year-old on the ball I’ve ever seen, nothing fazed him and he did very well. Harry Wood’s done well when brought into the starting eleven towards the end of the season and they’re not a million miles away from becoming regular contenders and we want to keep them involved,” Hoole added.
Matlock eventually finished 15th with 60 points, a total which looked unlikely when Hoole took temporary charge at the end of March.
Now attention quickly turns to next season with a number of new signings expected as loan signings return to their parent clubs.
“Some of the lads may be released so we’re obviously talking to them in case that happens,” said Hoole. “Hopefully that would put us in the driving seat but we’re also looking at other players and we have three in mind that we want to speak to already and we’ve not scratched the surface yet with the professional clubs. So I think we’ve already made some progress going forward.”
Hoole was full of praise for the Matlock fans who on Saturday made up at least half of the 219 attendance at Shaw Lane.
“The fans have been absolutely brilliant since I became involved, their support and backing has been first class. I hope they’ve liked the football we’ve been playing and will come back in increased numbers next season.”
Midfielder Joe Doyle-Charles has been put in the contingency squad for the England C side who play an Ireland international amateur 11 in Dublin on Sunday May 27. Doyle-Charles received a similar call up 12 months ago along with former Gladiator Niall McManus who had to turn the opportunity down due to university exams.
Matlock’s Presentation Night takes place in the Shorts Lounge at the DCJ Group Arena this Friday from 7.30pm. The Matlock Mercury sponsored Fans Player of the Year will be announced along with the usual other awards of young player of the year, the Steven Greenhough top scorer award, the players player and club person of the year.
Admission is free and a buffet will be provided.