Mark Atkins was left seething with his players as he launched a scathing attack on them after the shock Derbyshire Senior Cup defeat at Glossop on Tuesday night.
The Town chief questioned his side’s attitude, labeling the display embarrassing as the Gladiators made it a hat-trick of cup exits to lower league opposition this season.
North West Counties League Glossop are two divisions below Matlock in the non league pyramid, and with earlier losses this season to Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Carlton Town in the FA Cup and Mickleover Sports in the Doodson Sports NPL Cup, it means that Matlock can now concentrate on the league.
The tie at Surrey Street saw Matlock take an early lead through Lavell White and look comfortable, crucially missing two good chances to extend their advantage before poor defending saw Glossop turn the game briefly on its head with two goals . Danny Holland’s leveller on the stroke of half time ought to have put Matlock back on track but they were undone yet again as uncharacteristically poor defending on the night saw Glossop score again to win 3-2. To cap a bad night, substitute Bradley Grayson saw a penalty saved, Oscar Radford went off at the half time after being whacked in the groin for Glossop’s equalizer and then late on Adam Yates collided with his own captain Liam Needham and was helped off and taken to hospital with a fractured cheekbone.
It could be that last season’s fans player of the season will miss most if not all of the rest of the campaign.
“It was a shocking performance” blasted Atkins. “It was embarrassing for everyone, the players themselves, management, committee and the fans. The desire and the quality we’ve shown for the vast part of the season wasn’t there and in these type of cup games I have to question the players’ attitude. I warned them after the match on Saturday not to take the Glossop game lightly and drilled it into them again before the game but when you start badly it’s then difficult to get going. At 6.30 pm I had three players at the ground which is simply not good enough. I got here all the way from Doncaster for six o’clock, preparation for ties such as this, in fact any game, is crucial.”
Although Matlock appeared to get the worst of the refereeing decisions and created chances, Atkins would not alter his view.
“We had chances but we really didn’t deserve anything” he rapped. “Glossop wanted it more than us and I find that criminal. Few can come out of the game with any credit, they need to take responsibility. We had a great chance to get something from the game with the penalty, there’s lads on there who were used to taking penalties all of their careers, but nobody wanted it. At least Brad had the courage to take it. It wasn’t just the penalty though. The Derbyshire Senior Cup was a competition we wanted to do well in, which you can see from the side we fielded. Needless to say I’ll be wanting a reaction on Saturday as some lads could find themselves being moved on with any more performances like this.”
Three days earlier Matlock picked up their first league win in six matches when they beat Trafford 3-2, thanks to a debut goal from Shaun Tuton, Micky Harcourt’s header and James Ashmore’s volley.
“The Trafford and Glossop games we’re like chalk and cheese” Atkins continued. “On Saturday we were excellent in the first half and should have had four or five by half time. It was more difficult in the second half but Trafford deserve credit for fighting hard and making it difficult for us. It’s so disappointing to be out of all of the cups just half way through the season but we need to bounce back at Stocksbridge on Saturday. Everyone ought to be busting a gut to put the Glossop game behind them.”
Matlock will be looking to complete a first league double of the season at the Look Local Stadium after thrashing Steels in their opening home match of the season. A brace from Daryl Thomas added to Lavell White’s opener earned Matlock a convincing victory. How Atkins and Matlock would long for a repeat this weekend.
While their home form has been good with just one home defeat to title favorites Chorley, it’s two months since they won on opposing soil at Stafford Rangers. With Yates out of the equation and most likely Radford, Atkins will have to tinker with his defense. David Haggerty, missing in midweek through illness, should definitely return while his partner is likely to be either Lee Featherstone, or possibly Micky Harcourt, who has experience of a central defensive position earlier in his career.
A victory for Matlock is crucial to maintain their play off challenge, but also they will need to prove they have learned from Tuesday’s debacle by beating a side desperate for points themselves in the relegation zone.