Town hope to end barren run

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

Matlock go in search of a first win in six league games when they travel to the Look Local Stadium to face Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday.

Ironically, their last maximum points haul came against the Steels at the Reynolds Stadium back on November 2 when a Ben Algar brace, plus strikes from top scorer Ian Holmes and Tyeisse Nightingale saw them ease to a convincing 4-0 victory.

In Matlock’s defence, there has followed a tough run of games which has included trips to title chasing Chester and to Bradford Park Avenue last Saturday, plus home matches against in-form Hednesford Town and Worksop Town.

Injuries have also played their part and continue to do so with two more victims last weekend.

Winger Craig Nelthorpe’s debut lasted just half an hour at the Horsfall Stadium.

A hamstring strain prevented the former Doncaster Rovers, Oxford United and York City player from playing in the 2-1 home loss to Hednesford Town three days earlier.

Sadly, the problem had not cleared up and he could now be out for a few weeks, as could full back Kris Witcombe.

Initially it was feared that Witcombe had broken his shoulder, but a hospital visit later in the weekend revealed just bad bruising.

While Matlock now look to have an easier run of games than of late, manager Mark Atkins again reminded everyone that, on the field, they will face tough opposition.

“Stocksbridge will be a difficult game, it’s never an easy place to go to, but having said that we’re now looking for wins in all competitions and that includes the two cup competitions we‘re still in.

“We won’t be resting people, it’ll be a matter of playing our strongest available side in each game.

“If we can get a few wins now, we can get back into the reckoning in what is a very tough league.

“We know that we’re going to have to give it our very best over the next few weeks and we’re all determined to pick up as many points as we can and make progress in the cups.”

The visit to Stocksbridge is followed by a trip to Evo-Stik First Division South newcomers New Mills in the Derbyshire Senior Cup on Tuesday night.

Micky Harcourt looks set to be back after 20 minutes as a substitute at Bradford while suspended duo Liam King and Gareth Davies, the latter also out last weekend with hamstring trouble, should also return.

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Ian Holmes though remains doubtful with a jarred knee but this means opportunity knocks for T J Nightingale, who partnered new recruit Danny Davidson and scored both goals which gave the Gladiators a 2-0 lead at Avenue. Davidson joined from Worksop Town having previously been on loan from Alfreton at the end of the 2008/09 campaign.

Both Nightingale and man of the match Jon Kennedy had praise heaped on them by Atkins.

“Jon was fantastic, he’s been so all season , he’s kept us in games and won us many points. We’re really pleased to have him in our squad, he made some fabulous saves and could do nothing about either goal. And over the past few weeks TJ’s been fantastic as well. His workrate’s been phenomenal , we can’t fault the lad’s effort. When he’s been left out his attitude’s also been first class, so to get two goals on Saturday was a great reward for him. I see the result as a point won. Okay it was disappointing to lose the lead and to concede the second so late, but it was a good result and performance, particularly as we went there with a depleted squad.. We need to be at the same battling best as we were on Saturday in the games ahead. TJ had an ankle injury and Kris Bowler a back injury but they carried on because they knew we needed them to.”