As Matlock’s precarious position near the foot of the Northern Premier League table intensified with a sixth successive league defeat, new manager Dave Frecklington pledged to turn it around.
After a 3-1 loss at Stalybridge Celtic, the former Gainsborough Trinity boss said: “We need to be more clinical in both boxes but we’ll work hard and we’ll get it right.”
He must know that a sizeable task faces him in cajoling a side low on confidence, but there was the boost of a late rally at Stalybridge.
Craig Westcarr struck their first goal in four league matches.
A Westcarr centre fell to Tom Davie, whose volley forced a fine save from goalkeeper James Aspinall.
But the home failed to clear the resulting corner and Westcarr headed home.
However, it was too little too late. Again three goals were conceded and until the defensive problem is sorted, problems will continue and Frecklington’s men will remain in deep trouble.
A changed formation with three central defenders and two wing backs was introduced, with Brad Beatson making a debut in defence and Jordan Lemon on the right of midfield.
Matlock coped with what was thrown at them for nearly 40 minutes before they conceded, albeit to a fine strike.
James Caton, a livewire on the left, delivered a fine pass to Matt Wolfenden to strike a bullet of a 20-yarder beyond the diving Richard Walton.
Matlock remained in the game and when Davie had a shot charged down from a Taron Hare long throw, the ball broke for Harry Vince to shoot narrowly wide.
Matlock made a double change with Marcus Marshall and Adam Smith replacing Lemon and Vince respectively and within three minutes Marshall could have made the ideal impact from the visitors’ viewpoint.
He found space on the left and might have shot but his cross towards Jamie Jackson was driven too hard and then fell to Jake Green, who was unable to turn it home.
Hare produced a fine interception to force away a Scott Bakkor ball from the right before Cleveland Taylor nodded a Westcarr centre inches wide as Matlock improved as an attacking force as the game progressed.
But Stalybridge struck twice in four minutes in the final quarter.
James Caton’s pace on the left proved decisive, crossing for Bakkor to head home before Neil Kengni rocketed in a screamer from 18 yards.