Frustration was etched all over joint boss Glenn Kirkwood’s face at 10pm on Tuesday night following Matlock’s single goal defeat at Frickley.
The loss further harmed their play-off challenge after two more points had been dropped in last weekend’s 2-2 home draw against Mickleover Sports.
Matlock wasted enough opportunities to have won several games but went down to the scrappiest of Joe Pugh goals two minutes before half-time.
And, whilst Kirkwood and fellow boss Craig Hopkins take nothing for granted, they must surely have been expecting more than the meagre return of one point from two game against sides comfortably in the bottom half of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division,
Before kick off on Saturday, Town lay third, knowing that victory would see them in second spot. But the draw saw them slip to fifth and the Frickley defeat cost them another place in the league standings.
“It was frustrating on Saturday and even more frustrating at Frickley, I’m gutted that we’ve lost, we had a great chance to make inroads into those play off positions and we couldn’t take it,” said Kirkwood.
“The last thing we want is for the season to peter out after what we’ve achieved so far, and Hoppo and me, the staff and players are determined that won’t happen.
“Hoppo and me have been in this kind of position before, we;’ve had knockbacks but have got over them and gone on again, and this is what we must try and do now, The lads have played fifty odd games so far this season. We can’t ask any more of them physically, now we’ve got to look after them, the fans keep on backing them for that final push.”
Kirkwood said that his side worked hard against Mickleover but lacked the extra piece of quality to break down a robust visiting side.
He added: “We had the character to come back twice which was pleasing, but generally we lacked quality we needed in the final third, we didn’t test their goakeeper and although we spent the last half hour kicking in, it was scrappy.”
Matlock face a tough trip to play off rivals Stourbridge on Saturday before facing Coalville Town at home on Tuesday night.
Kirkwood said: “We wanted to bounce back at Frickley and we had tons of chances to do so. We’ll never criticise missing chances, Frickley’s goakeeper played well, but had we been five or six nil up at half time it wouldn’t have been a travesty. But we could see their goal coming, Frickley made good decisions in the right areas.
“We’ve shown a lot of quality this season that hasn’t quite been there in recent games, we need to get that back, the lads though are giving everything. There’s still a lot of football to be played. Stourbridge have had two good wins after a dodgy spell.
“It’s another day, another game for us, people might write us off but the lads this season have shown what they’re about. We have to improve though in the final third, be more ruthless and find that killer instinct.”
Cleveland Taylor missed the Frickley clash and will also be out on Saturday through suspension after a tenth booking of the season at Skelmersdale.