Matlock’s joint interim boss Martin Foster praised the Gladiators players’ spirit following the vital and welcome 3-1 victory at fellow strugglers Witton Albion last weekend.

Both sides were well out of form, with Matlock having lost their previous five league and cup games while the Albion’s losing streak had stretched to nine matches. It was Matlock’s first victory in eight league outings since a 3-1 home win against Barwell on August 29 and just their second maximum point haul of the season.

Matlock remained second from bottom following the midweek matches but in much better heart for some tough challenges that lie ahead, starting this weekend with a visit from Stourbridge and then on Tuesday night when FC United of Manchester visit the Autoworld Arena.

But a slow start at Witton could have been costly for them and Foster is well aware that the Gladiators need to put together a consistent ninety minute performance. He conceded that Town were second best during the opening half.

“It was a great result for us after what hadf been a poor first forty five minutes”said Foster.

“But the pleasing thing was that the lads showed true character to turn things around and it showed the togetherness in the team. We were all delighted coming off and getting the win takes some of the weight off their shoulders and we can now hopefully play with more confidence.”

Another disappointing result looked on the cards when Neil Harvey nodded Witton into a 13th minute lead but a Danny Holland penalty four minutes before the interval put Matlock on level terms before strikes from Corey Gregory and James Ashmore in the final sixteen minutes ensured Matlock’s win.

“For sixty five minutes at Grantham we were excellent and then for whatever reason the performance tailed off and continued into the start of the Witton game” Foster explained.

“But we came back again and it was down to the lads doing exactly what the management wanted. We’ve not shouted and bawled at them, it could be that the lads don’t know how to handle being near the bottom of the league. In the second half they took it upon themselves to do what was needed, once they’re over that white line they’ve got to perform. It’s a ninety minute performance we need now and we’ll be emphasizing this in the build up to the weekend.”

Injury is still expected to rule out defenders David Haggerty and Micky Harcourt plus captain Liam Needham. Phil Roe suffered slight knee damage at Witton but hopes to be fit to face a Stourbridge side surprisingly beaten at home by Northern League Shildon in their FA Cup replay in midweek and making their first ever visit to Matlock.

Winger Jason Stokes has missed the last three games with an infected knee and will be assessed at tonight’s (Thursday’s) training session. If he is passed fit, he could be the one to come in for the change forced on Foster and Rushbury as Jamie Yates has returned to North Ferriby United following the completion of his one month loan.

“Both of these games are good ones to be involved in. We’ve had a great response from the lads so far and at present we can’t wait for the games to come along” added Foster who has returned to light training following his broken leg sustained in the pre season game at Handsworth Parramore.

All applications for the vacant managerial post following Mark Atkins’ resignation will now be considered after last night’s deadline. The Gladiators have so far had an encouraging amount of applications.

Meanwhile they will make the long trek to Workington next weekend (October 25) instead of Marine after the Evo-Stik League announced a fixture change in midweek. Transport leaves the Autoworld Arena at 8 am.

Ian Richardson

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