Glenn Kirkwood admitted his Matlock Town side are underachieving in the bottom half of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division table, following more dropped points in a 2-1 defeat at play off contenders Grantham Town on New Years Day.
It meant that the Gladiators collected just one point from nine, albeit against tough opposition all on the hunt for honours towards the top of the league. Now Matlock must be looking to beat mid-table rivals Barwell at the DCJ Group Arena on Saturday.
Kirkwood said: “It’s really frustrating and it has got Hoppo and me down. With the squad we have we should be doing better. While we overachieved last year it’s a case of underachieving this time around and we need to put things right as soon as we can.”
Matlock found themselves two goals down at the interval at Grantham in a controversial first half which saw both sides reduced to 10 men, Grantham’s Tom Batchelor and Town’s Micky Harcourt being ordered off in separate incidents.
Jamie Jackson reduced the deficit with still nearly half an hour remaining but despite dominating the second period, Matlock could not find an equaliser.
“I’m still scratching my head how we’ve not won that game,” said Kirkwood. “At the moment things don’t seem to be going our way but we need to crack on for there wasn’t a lot wrong with the performance.
“The first goal was avoidable, it’s so unlike Micky Harcourt to make a mistake but he’s held his hands up to it, he’s done really well for us since he’s come back to the club.
“Then there was a very debateable penalty. Grantham probably edged the first half but we absolutely dominated the second half. The number of times the ball went across the face of the goal was unbelievable, we’ve got to work harder to try and put this right.
“We’ve got to make the chances count, it’s not just one person to blame, we score goals as a team, we’ve got to be more ruthless or else we’ll be in line for a long four months.”
Kirkwood acknowledged his side faced a tough festive period.
“Altrincham will win the league and I think they’ll do it quite comfortably for they’re the best side in the league. We deserved at least a point against Buxton for we dominated the second half and I can’t believe we haven’t won at Grantham who went third.
“Adam Stevens has done a tremendous job there but we feel we were the better side. We knew it would be tough, all games are tough but these three were mega tough but we haven’t disgraced ourselves,” said Kirkwood.
Matlock should have a new addition in the squad for Barwell’s visit, the Gladiators having a verbal undertaking that the un-named player would be joining them.
“We know exactly what Barwell bring to the table, they play a physical game but can also play a bit so they’ll be tough to beat. We’ll be working hard in training on Thursday and we know that if we continue to work hard like we’ve been doing our luck will change. Once we get that win our play has deserved we’ll start to see a difference again,” added Kirkwood.
Matlock will be without midfielder Michael Williams who begins a three match ban following his dismissal against Buxton, but Harcourt will be able to play as he will miss the visit to Mickleover on Saturday week.
“Willo will be a big miss, he got a right whack on the head on New Years Day which affected him for 10 to 15 minutes but Willo being Willo he wanted to battle on and not come off,” said Kirkwood, who praised Jamie Jackson on opening his account in a third spell with the Gladiators.
And added: “He’s been as good as gold, he’s played really well and fully deserved his goal on Monday and could have had a few more.”