Matlock Town boss Mark Atkins may have to do a head count as he takes a depleted squad to NantwichTown on Saturday.

The Gladiators picked up three more injuries in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win in the Doodson Sports League Cup against Carlton to add to the already crocked Lewis McMahon, Gareth Davies and Ben Algar.

Atkins says that both Oscar Radford (ankle) and Anthony Griffiths-Junior (hamstring) look non starters for the weekend and Martin Foster is rated as very doubtful after taking a bang on his calf in a heavy challenge during the first half.

Atkins’ headache is compounded with Laurence Gaughan beginning a two game ban after his red card against Ashton United a fortnight ago. One small ray of hope is the possible return of Davies who has missed the last seven matches since being floored by a late tackle in the defeat at Worksop on December 29.

“We’ll be down to the bare bones so we’ll have to see who’s fit and available and pick a side accordingly” said the manager who was pleased to emerge from the Carlton game with a win to earn an away tie at Grantham Town on February 26.

“We’ve picked up some bad injuries, we’ve battled away hard and I’m pleased to win although we were by no means excellent” he added.

Under 19 midfielder James Travis was drafted into the squad and made his first team bow as a substitute at the start of the second half. Atkins picked him out for special praise.

” Games such as these are always difficult as you try and decide who to use and who to rest, we had 13 fit players so we brought James in. He’s been training with the first team squad and getting better and better as time’s gone on. He’s played forty five minutes and certainly didn’t look out of place. It’s great to be able to put a home grown lad in the first team, he did very well.”

However, it was more of a case of brickbats than bouquets from Atkins for his side when they dropped two needless points in a 3-3 draw at basement club Eastwood on Saturday.

“We were looking to get three points and I told the lads beforehand not to take Eastwood lightly but in the first half four or five of them were not in the game, they gave nowhere near maximum effort and it cost us badly” he rapped.

“After going 1-0 down we got back to 1-1 and ought to have been okay but Micky Harcourt’s got himself sent off for a daft two footed tackle, I’ve no problems with the referee’s decision. Then we went 2-1 down straightaway. We had to dig deep and a few words were needed at half time.”

Atkins agreed that it was a better second half display from the Gladiators.

“We bossed the second half and got two good goals, we were in control only for Eastwood to level late on with their first chance of the half. It was disappointing to only draw but we’ve only ourselves to blame.”

Undoubtedly Town need to perform better at Nantwich, who thrashed them 5-0 on the opening day, and in Tuesday night’s home Derbyshire Senior Cup semi final clash against Chesterfield.

Recently re-signed full back Lee Featherstone from Sheffield should return after being cup tied in midweek.

“We want to put that Nantwich result right, even if we have to go therewith a depleted squad. Then there’s Chesterfield which is a big game for us and one we should all look forward to.”

Matlock have reduced admission prices for the Spireites visit with adults paying just £7 instead of the usual £9. OAP’s and children over 12 will be charged £5 and children under 12 just £2.

“We’d like to see a really good crowd in for an attractive semi final tie with our friends from Chesterfield so I hope locals e come on down and give our lads your backing. It’d be great to see the Chesterfield fans once again you’re all very welcome” said Matlock Chairman Tom Wright.

Tuesday’s game with Carlton attracted a rock bottom 82 gate and will have club officials searching the record books to see if a lower crowd has watched a first team fixture at Matlock.

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