Mark Atkins and his assistant Nick Buxton want Matlock to take the form they showed in Tuesday night’s narrow home defeat to Chorley into their forthcoming games, and in particular Saturday’s FA Cup First Qualifying trip to Basford United.

The tie is a potential banana skin for Matlock and after being the underdogs in three FA Trophy ties last term the boot is firmly on the other foot this time.

The Gladiators were dumped out at this stage by Belper Town after a replay twelve months ago and Atkins knows his side must not make any mistakes on Saturday.

“It’s a must get through game” said Atkins. “Our attitude must be right and we must give a good performance. We’ve had Basford watched twice, it’ll be a tough game given where it is and it being in the FA Cup.Basford as underdogs will have nothing to lose and we’ve got to show that they’re two leagues below us in the pyramid and make our higher league standing show. If we can play like we did against Chorley then we should be okay.”

Basford won the East Midlands Counties League title last season to earn promotion to the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division and after their 2-1 defeat at Armthorpe Welfare on Tuesday, they sit in eleventh spot.

But Matlock will be wary of one familiar old face in the Nottingham side’s line up, with former Gladiator TJ Nightingale likely to feature in attack. Nightingale regularly scores against Matlock including two for Eastwood Town last season while former Notts County marksman Martin Carruthers is also a probable starter. Basford signed former Sheffield United and Derby forward Lee Morris this week.

Matlock will be wanting a positive outcome at Greenwich Avenue so they can travel to King’s Lynn Town on Tuesday, provided of course the Linnets do not draw at home to Cambridge City in their tie. If a replay is needed at Matlock. it will be on Tuesday.

On the league front Town have slipped to fifteenth after a testing run of five games gleaned just four points, but on the flipside, four have been away from home and in the last two, their conquerors have hit the top of the table.

Buxton took charge of the team in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at AFC Fylde, before Matlock put up a tremendous fight in going down 2-1 at home to Chorley when Atkins was back after attending a wedding at the weekend.

“Up to the first goal at Fylde we were doing okay, we’d restricted their chances really well and Kendo colliding with Oscar for their first goal was really unfortunate and knocked the stuffing out of us” said Buxton.

“Then they scored straight after half time and apart from Lewis McMahon’s chance we probably didn’t believe we could get anything. We played okay but never really threatened which was disappointing but we were both pleased with everything bar the result against Chorley when we should have got a draw. Lewis had two great chances at the end which he scuffed but the performance was fine and proved we could stand up and be counted against a big team.”

Injuries again will need to be assessed on Thursday night. Although Micky Harcourt returned against Chorley he picked up a nasty knee and ankle knock following a late challenge and Danny Holland and Oscar Radford were also limping at the end. They will join captain Liam Needham, Corey Gregory, Anton Foster, Lee Featherstone and Adam Yates on the treatment table.

Ian Richardson

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