Steve Kittrick dared not have dreamt of a better start to his tenure in charge of Matlock Town with a maximum points return and his team at the top of the BetVictor NPL Premier Division table after four games.
Having gained 1-0 wins in their opening two matches at home to Bamber Bridge and at Basford United, the 1-0 trend continued at Stafford Rangers last Saturday, and for a long period it looked as if Monday’s home meeting with Gainsborough Trinity would have the same outcome.
But an 83rd minute penalty saw Matlock concede for the first time this season before another victory was secured with a stoppage time own goal, the Gladiators having gone in front with another own goal after just 10 minutes.
Kittrick is understandably delighted with the season so far but even after sixteen new signings, including those of defender Josh Lacey from Scarborough Athletic and Jordan Sinnott from Alfreton Town last Friday, he feels he needs to add to his squad in the forward area.
“We’re still a little light up front so I’m looking at a couple of strikers this week in training as we need to help Marshy (Marcus Marshall) and give him some support,” said Kittrick.
But he will also be aware that in both of their home games so far, the Gladiators could have won by more than the one solitary goal.
“We played really well against Gainsborough,” he said.
“We went in front and then had the chances to put the game to bed, we could have been three or four up by half time.
“Gainsborough changed their system in the second half and for a while we struggled a bit but we still had three one on ones in the second half.
“We need to take our chances as you can get bitten on the bum as we did with the penalty for their goal. I’ve no arguments with the decision, it was a penalty, fair play to Gainsborough.
“But credit to our lads. We kept our shape, dug in and scored at the end.
“The win was well deserved and I think it would have been an injustice had Gainsborough got something from the game.”
Man of the match against Trinity was winger Dan Bramall who gave full back Sam Topliss a torrid time and might have scored twice.
Bramall was at Chesterfield’s academy as a youngster before moving to Everton who released him in the summer.
“Dan’s a good footballer who’s been at a top professional club and obviously learned a lot. It didn’t work out for him and he’s come here, we’ve put an arm around him and he’s got a smile back on his face” Kittrick added.
The Matlock boss was pleased with the commitment his side showed at Stafford where Marcus Marshall grabbed an 80th minute winner and goalkeeper Jon Stewart saved a penalty in stoppage time.
He said: “We worked really hard at Stafford on a surface which wasn’t ideal and it was really hot, but everyone dug in and did well.
“It comes from having a good dressing room, the only frustrating thing was that we picked up a few injuries but that’s football at this level.”
Midfielder Luke Dean came off with a tight hamstring at Stafford and sat out the Gainsborough win but is expected to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Ashton United.
Then on Tuesday night the Gladiators take on Grantham Town at the Proctor Cars Stadium.
The Tameside outfit are currently in bottom spot following their relegation from National League North at the end of last season but Kittrick expects a hard game at a ground where the Gladiators have a poor record.
“They’ve got some very good players I know well from the Conference North,” said Kittrick.
“They’ll click at some point so we know we’ll have to continue working hard as we’ve done so far. “People ask if I’m surprised with what we’ve done so far? When I came I was unsure where we were and what was needed, but we’ve got great team spirit and togetherness which carries you through on tough days.
“We’ve been resilient and the lads are starting to understand what I want.
“We’ve been resolute in defence, top draw, and we’ll need that to continue.
“The Grantham game will be a different challenge - they’ve started well so that’ll be another tough game for us.”
Tuesday’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round draw handed Matlock a home tie against Basford United which will take place at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday week (7th September).
As draws go, it has to be labelled in the difficult category but at least the Gladiators have home advantage, but it is also disappointing for the fans who like to see their side face someone from a different division.
Matlock beat Basford 2-0 in Nottingham at this stage of the 2013/14 competition with Danny Holland and Lavelle White on the scoresheet.
Off the field Matlock have named Tony Knowles as Assistant Secretary.
He has extensive secretarial experience at Hucknall Town and is a current committee member.
As a boy he was team mascot for Matlock when they joined the Northern Premier League in 1969.