Pressure is on Town’s players

Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager
Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager

Manager Mark Atkins has warned his players that they are playing for their futures with the Gladiators.

Atkins was furious after the 1-0 home Doodson Sports League Cup defeat by Frickley Athletic last Wednesday which saw the last hope of Matlock collecting some silverware this season slip away.

He labelled some of his players “not good enough” and he said Matlock “had been poor all over the pitch” on the night of the defeat.

This week he added: “The players were told after the game exactly what their position was at this club.

“Now I’m looking for a reaction, people have got to show me that they want to remain here, so I’ll be changing the team around quite a bit in the upcoming games.

If the budget, which is a big consideration, allows, then hopefully we’ll be able to bring someone in.”

Atkins failed to sign the player who he had made a seven-day approach about after he signed a contract with his present club, who could offer him a far better financial package than Matlock could.

The Town boss also scotched a rumour on the forum on the Gladiators’ website that striker Ian Holmes is wanted by FC Halifax.

n Continued on page 31

His focus remains on upturning Matlock’s fortunes and he was disappointed that last weekend’s trip to Chasetown was called off due to a frozen pitch.

“We wanted to play, I was looking for a reaction, the players have got to show more responsibility and do their talking on the pitch. We’ve had a disappointing month, injuries and suspensions haven’t helped but, to be perfectly honest, the performances have been nowhere near good enough and the players have got to put that right.

“The football’s not been good over the last few weeks, I want my teams to play football and if we’re going to lose games I want to see us at least expressing ourselves in a positive fashion.”

If Matlock are going to have anything to show for their season, and that now means a play-off spot, they must basically double their current points total of 35 in the 16 games which remain.

“To reach the play offs we’ve got to win most of our games, which at present, considering our league position, and the way we’ve been playing, will be difficult,” Atkins admitted. “But we need to keep going and we’ve got to get as many points as we can and finish as high up as possible”.

Matlock head to Kendal on Saturday to face a club who, like themselves, haven’t done themselves justice this season.

The Lake District side was expected to be challenging for at least a play-off spot, if not for a place in the top two, given some exciting signings at the start of the campaign, but only goal difference separates the two clubs with Kendal just one place higher.

“I thought they’d be up there and since I came to Matlock they’ve always given us a very hard test and it will be no different this time,” Atkins continued.

Kris Bowler (back), Gareth Davies (thigh) and Chris Bettney (ribs) are expected to miss out but there could be a welcome return for Ben Algar who has trained this week.

Winger Craig Nelthorpe should also be available after suspension while Lee Morris and Steve Warne, both cup tied against Frickley, will be back in the frame.

Forward Lee Whittington has moved to Frickley, making his debut for them in their surprise 2-1 home win over Chorley last weekend.