“The season must not peter out” was the message from Matlock boss Mark Hume after his side’s first defeat of 2016 against title chasing Darlington FC on Tuesday night.

In spite of the 3-0 margin Town were second best but not disgraced at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park. Having drawn at other high riding clubs in Ashton United, Salford City and Nantwich, hopes were high of the mid table Gladiators could spring another surprise with a good result again, but in truth, the Quakers were different gravy. On the evidence of Tuesday, they are the best and strongest team Matlock have faced so far this season.

Hume admitted that he hates to lose but said he could take some positives from the match,

“We weren’t overly that bad as a team, it was more a case of Darlington adapting better to the conditions and we gave them a helping hand by conceding a silly set piece from which they eventually scored. The first half wasn’t a great spectacle, it was two teams trying to play the conditions.
We missed a great chance at 1-0, had we taken it things could have been interesting. For all Niall’s hard work and brilliance, he really needs to start taking more chances,he’s got a good goals tally already but if he’d scored half of those he’s missed he’d be right up there with the leading scorers in the league. Then they’ve gone and scored a worldy”

Hume though said nothing should be taken away from Darlington. “They’re obviously going to be in the mix at the end of the season, there’s no doubt about that, we’ve gone to places like Nantwich and Salford and given them a really good game, we did our best here, we didn’t deserve the 3-0, it makes it look worse than it really was. I’m hard to please, I really don’t like losing but we’ll take the positives from the game and move on. I expect us to do well, we’ve got to put together another run, February’s an important month for us and we need to keep on pressing, the season mustn’t peter out.”

Next for the Gladiators is a trip to struggling Marine on Saturday before on Tuesday they host Mickleover Sports in the rearrangement of last Saturday’s postponed fixture due to the Autoworld Arena being flooded, with Marine coming to town on Saturday week in a quick return.

“We can’t and mustn’t take anything for granted against Marine and Mickleover just because they are below us, we must be looking to get something from all of these games, we’re playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday quite regularly now and we’ve got to make it count.”

There are no injury worries for Hume ahead of the weekend apart from Adam Yates who picked up a slight knock at Darlington but he is expected to recover.

Meanwhile Sheffield United have extended goalkeeper George Willis’ loan to Matlock for a further month and new signing Tom Burgin has signed a contract with the Gladiators. The six foot two central defender joined Matlock from Bradford Park Avenue last month.

“George has been fantastic for us, we’re delighted to have him with us ” said Hume. “Tom was on contract at Bradford but opted to come to Matlock, he’s a good lad and we think it’s only fair to have him on contract here.”

Ian Richardson

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