“Don’t be too downhearted” is the message from joint boss Glenn Kirkwood after seeing his Matlock side lose at both Ashton United and Spennymoor United this week, defeats which now make them look long shots for a play-off spot.
The Gladiators were second best in a 1-0 defeat at Ashton on Saturday and for the first 45 minutes in County Durham on Tuesday when they found themselves 3-0 down at half-time.
After a disastrous opening half when it looked as if Matlock would be on the end of a thrashing, encouragement came in the way they rallied to net twice and push hard for an equaliser in a vastly improved showing.
Kirkwood said: “Recent form suggests the play-offs won’t happen but we want to win every game. While it’s still mathematically possible, we’ll keep fighting.
“If Hoppo and me could resolve things just like that then we wouldn’t be managing in the NPL. We’re very disappointed, in fact it’s been our toughest week since we took over. At the start of the season we never thought of the play-offs, but those hopes came about through our fans and the way we’d performed earlierin the season.”
Kirkwood added that Matlock had faced two very good teams in Ashton and Spennymoor. It’s Ashton again on Saturday at the DCJ Group Arena, with the Robins being in confident mood following an astonishing 10-1 win at bottom markers Skelmersdale on Tuesday night.
Kirkwood said: “We’d been brilliant against Stafford, and at Ashton we did well for 20 minutes but stopped playing. They (Ashton) then had their tails up and we made things very difficult for ourselves, it was an off-day for us.
“Ashton make good decisions in good areas and are a good side. Spennymoor, make no mistake, are a top, top side and will make the play-offs.
“But we didn’t defend and play well enough as a team, you have to compete else there’s no point in turning up.
“The preparation didn’t help but that’s not an excuse, the slope there’s a massive advantage and having it with us after half-time saw us build up some steam. We looked dangerous but then the experience Spennymoor have got them over the line by killing the game.
“We live to fight another day, we want to put one over Ashton and show them the real Matlock.”
Curtis Morrison, who has seen his loan from Chesterfield extended until the end of the season, and Jamie Yates came on as substitutes at Spennymoor and were praised by Kirkwood.
Knee injuries continue to trouble Adam Yates and Ted Cribley and they could miss out again at the weekend, so it looks as if Jamie Yates could be back in Matlock colours against Ashton and at second-placed Nantwich on Tuesday.
Kirkwood added: “On the whole recent games have been disappointing but if you’d have asked me and said we’d be three points off a play-off spot with eight games to play, plus having a cup final to look forward to, I know we’d have accepted it at the start of the season as would people behind the scenes and a good number of our supporters.”
Meanwhile, Matlock Town and Gresley will play their Derbyshire Senior Cup Final at Chesterfield’s Pro-Act Stadium.
The news was announced after both clubs were represented at a meeting with DFA officials on Monday when Matlock won the toss for the home dressing room.
The match has been set for Tuesday, May 2, kick-off 7.45pm and is a repeat of the 2015 final which also took place at the Proact when Matlock ran out 7-0 winners. Ticket prices are adults £10, concessions over 60 at £5 and under 16’s being charged £3.