Places still up for grabs ahead of kick-off, says Matlock boss

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Matlock Town visit Sheffield FC in their final pre season outing on Saturday, with first team places still up for grabs.

Gladiators boss Mark Atkins has pledged that the players still have time to impress and influence his decision making process ahead of the season’s curtain raiser against Trafford on August 16.

“I haven’t decided on the eleven to start at Trafford,” Atkins insisted. “There’s two or three positions I’m still looking at and players have the chance to stake their claim in the Sheffield game.”

It should be a competitive end to Matlock’s pre-season programme against the Evo-Stik First Division outfit who are managed by former Gladiators boss Mick Wadsworth.

The Coach and Horses outfit are likely to include former Matlock winger Ben Algar in their line up as well.

Atkins was disappointed that Staveley MW grabbed a late equaliser in last Friday’s match at Inkersall Road, as the Gladiators had once again created enough chances to have won comfortably.

Danny Holland’s penalty put Matlock in front just before the hour before Staveley captain Jordan Eagers pulled the hosts level five minutes from time.

“We controlled the first half like we were expected to,” he said. “We passed the ball well but didn’t have the luck in front of goal. In the second half we didn’t look as good but got the goal, only for us to be unable to maintain our earlier good form and we paid for it.”

Goalscoring was Matlock’s Achilles’ heel last season and although it has again looked problematic in pre-season, Atkins is not too concerned.

“We’re creating chances, if we weren’t then I’d be worried,” he said. “Friday night proved though that we’ve got to get things right in both boxes. We hit the post and the keeper’s made three or four great saves.

“But with all respect to Staveley we should be going there and keeping a clean sheet. But they’ve scored from their first shot and that’s disappointing so there’s still work to be done.”

Encouragingly though for Matlock followers, Atkins has been working feverishly to strengthen his attacking options.

“I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire in the striking department and I’m looking to sign one, if not two forwards before the start of the season,” he added.

One signing that has gone through is that of midfielder Niall Dawkins, who was released by Derby County and made aware to Matlock by the Rams, to become Matlock’s eighth new recruit of summer.