Matlock’s fine form at their Reynolds Stadium headquarters this term looks set to be given a stern examination for the second successive home game against another in form side on Saturday.
Worksop Town were the visitors on New Years Day but went home with a 1-0 defeat, their first reverse in thirteen league matches. Now it’s the turn of King’s Lynn Town, whose 3-1 home win over Buxton last weekend was their fourth on the trot in the league which put them firmly in the play off picture.
And the newly promoted Linnets, last season’s First Division South champions, will journey north from West Norfolk with revenge on their minds. The Gladiators inflicted their highest league defeat of the season back in September when a Louis McMahon brace and strikes from both Danny Holland and Daryl Thomas gave Matlock an impressive 4-0 win at The Walks.
“I’m expecting a very difficult game and while we won very comfortably at their place, I’m sure it will be a much tighter game on Saturday” warned Matlock boss Mark Atkins.
Only title favorites Chorley have won at the Reynolds Stadium so far in a season when Matlock have let in just eight goals in their thirteen home league games to date, keeping seven clean sheets in the process.
“Our home form has been fantastic and obviously the aim must be to continue in the same vein” Atkins added. “But again we must show the desire and the work rate to keep our great home run going.”
His side had to be content with just a point from their visit to Grantham Town last weekend. Having gone in front through James Ashmore’s second goal of the season on the stroke of half time, Matlock conceded a 78th minute penalty converted by Gary King. Again it was a game when Matlock failed to put away their chances, this being their achilles heel for the best part of the season.
“It was a physically tough game and we had to stand up to the challenge that Grantham gave us” Atkins said.
“Defensively we did very well indeed over the ninety minutes, our two centre halves were excellent and even when we were under pressure I felt comfortable that we’d keep a clean sheet. We had three great chances which we didn’t take and that ultimately cost us the chance of all three points.”
The extra two points would have been handy for Matlock after the Worksop win and would have seen them two places higher (in eleventh) in the table.
But Atkins believes all is not lost as far as the play off places are concerned.
“There’s nearly half the season left and plenty of games for everyone to make their mark. Two or three wins on the trot could take us right back up the table and right back in contention.”
Atkins though will know that the goals supply will have to be increased for his troops have netted a meagre thirty six goals in their twenty seven league outings.
Only Buxton, Witton Albion and the bottom two of Stafford Rangers and Droylsden have scored fewer goals than the Gladiators.
Both leading scorer Danny Holland and Shaun Tuton, who missed the Grantham clash through suspension, will be available to face the Linnets when Atkins will have to decide on his favoured front two. Last season’s top scorer Lewis McMahon and Thomas have been the striking duo in the Worksop and Grantham matches. Have they done enough to keep their places?
Former Matlock striker Massiah McDonald will not be in the King’s Lynn side as he is currently serving a seven match suspension.