The rehearsals for the new campaign are now over and the serious stuff starts for Matlock Town on Saturday when their Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division campaign gets under way at home to Nantwich Town.
Gladiators’ chief Mark Atkins is confiden his side can do well, but with some provisos.
“We’ve a far better squad than this time last season, we’ve experience in vital areas and the way we’ve been playing in the pre season games suits us more.
“We’ve more power up front, which will serve us well as long as we get good opportunities for them.
“We’ve a good squad of players, and we’ve got the fresh blood which we needed.
“Generally it’s been a good pre-season but, as I said to them after the Sheffield United game, when we had 65 per cent of the play, in the league games possession doesn’t necessarily win games and we’ve got to do better in that final third and take our chances.”
As pleased as he is with the pre-season, the Rainworth result and performance excepted, when a below-par showing saw Town slip to a surprising 2-1 defeat, Atkins issued a stark warning.
“Pre-season counts for nothing, it’s now that the results mean something and we’ll be looking to get off to a good start.
“Things might not happen overnight, although I hope they do.”
Atkins, who missed the Rainworth match, took in the view of assistant Nick Buxton, saying “some players let themselves down.
“It’s one of those things and hopefully something they will learn from.
“It gives other players that opportunity now to stake their claim for a start.”
Nantwich have made some astute summer signings, bringing in strikers Mark Beesley from Hednesford and former FC United of Manchester hitman Kyle Wilson from Macclesfield as crowd favourite Michael Lennon left to join Hednesford.
Atkins continued: “Jimmy (Quinn)’s signed some good players and he’ll have them organised and ready to play some good football.
“Those players know this league but while we respect the opposition, it’s really about what we do.
If we approach the game in the right way and do the things we’re good at then we can be a handful for opposing sides, but we’ve got to turn up,” Atkins warned.
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Joe Leesley, Ryan Hindley and Laurence Gaughan were all carrying injuries and were expected not to be risked in last night’s final warm-up test against Derby County.
James Lukic will miss the opening three games through suspension.
Matlock will be looking to remedy their poor away form of last term when they travel to Frickley Athletic on Tuesday.
The South Elmsall side have had some impressive pre-season results and the likes of James Ashmore and Bradley Grayson will be wanting to do well in an early return to their former club.
“Having seen Frickley’s results it must be their best pre season for years, having won a number of games by four or five goals. But Frickley is Frickley, it’s always a tough place to go.”