An unhappy Mark Atkins has told his Matlock Town players that they are playing to stay with the Gladiators in the remaining games of the season.
The Town boss was reflecting on a lacklustre display in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Witton Albion and he was looking for a marked improvement, starting last night in the A6 derby at Buxton and carrying on into this weekend’s visit of Whitby Town to the Autoworld Arena.
“It was a poor performance, and unacceptable especially as I’d stressed to them that we wanted people to express themselves and show what they could do with next season in mind,” said Atkins.
“There were a lot of under par performances, we created just one chance which Shaun missed early on and although Witton scored from their one really clear chance it was clear that they wanted it more than us and that’s not happened at home all season.
“The most disappointing thing was that some of the players looked as though the season had finished.
“Okay, losing five leading players has been a massive blow but the others should have been busting a gut to show that they’re good enough to be here next season, and nearly all those that came in have featured at some point and are more than capable of doing a job for us.
“But the attitude and desire levels weren’t right and I can’t defend that performance.”
It was only Matlock’s third defeat at the Autoworld this term and Atkins is hoping that neither Whitby nor Buxton add to that in the last two home matches.
“There’s other games now and the players have got to push themselves and show a maximum in terms of commitment and desire levels, something that’s gone with the big players being out,” added Atkins.
“Whitby will be a real good test, they’ve had a great mid season before dying away and then picking up again in the last two or three matches.
“They’re always a difficult side to face and are travelling well, but really it’s all about us.”
The squad for Saturday should be similar to that which faced Witton with Adam Yates back after personal commitments ruled him out last weekend.
Meanwhile, illness and injury has brought a premature end to Lee Featherstone’s season and Liam Gaughan has moved to Retford United in search of regular first team football.
More disappointingly for Atkins, deadline week signing Jordan Jones told Atkins he was going to play more at Teversal after the defeat at FC United of Manchester.