Last Saturday was a case of the result being more important than the performance when Matlock Town beat visiting Grantham Town by the odd goal in five.

The fact that it was the Gladiators’ first Saturday home league win of the season was insignificant in the general scheme of things. Manager Mark Atkins says nobody had even given that statistic a thought until it was mentioned by others in the build-up to the game.

The fact that the win came against aside just below them in the table-the Gingerbreads lay two places and a point behind Matlock but having played four more games prior to kick off-plus it was three valuable points ahead of his side facing the league’s top two during the following two weekends, held greater sway with the Gladiators’ chief.

Matlock travel to Hednesford Town on Saturday before facing table topping North Ferriby at the Reynolds Stadium, although the arctic conditions could well mean a postponement at Keys Park.

“I was very pleased with the win against Grantham who to be honest surprised me a little” said Atkins. “They caused us some problems in the first half but having started with four forwards we tightened things up in the second half by dropping a player back and we defended very much better. In the end we could have won by more, we created some good chamces and their keeper’s made two great saves.”

All of the goals came in the first half with Lewis McMahon, Bradley Grayson and Massiah McDonald on target as Matlock took the lead three times.

“Winning the game was was the be all and end all” Atkins continued. “We’ve played much better in a lot of games and come away with nothing. Given that we now play the top two in the next two league games, it was a very important result but we’re not overawed at facing Hednesford and North Ferriby. They’re good games for us and if we can play like we did against the likes of Mansfield and Luton, then we’ll be in with a chance.”

Having spoken with Hednesford manager Rob Smith this week, Atkins is making plans for training on Saturday with the weather forecast deteriorating towards the weekend. If the game goes ahead, Atkins knows his players will have to be at the top of their game to gain a result.

“Hednesford are the best team I’ve seen this season. they’re very strong in all departments and you only have to look at the quality they have on the bench to see they’re pushing hard for the title. But if we go there all fully focused and stay solid by keeping their opportunities down, we’ll get chances and it’ll be up to us to take them.”

Tuesday night’s Derbyshire Senior Cup quarter final at home to Borrowash Victoria was unsurprisingly called off and has been rearranged for Tuesday January 29. If the weather improves, on Tuesday the Gladiators will take on First Division South Carlton Town at the Reynolds Stadium in the 3rd Round of the Doodson Sport League Cup, the winners travelling to Grantham in the last sixteen.

The bad weather has given the chance for some injuries to clear up. Adam Yates (thigh), Micky Harcourt (foot) and James Ashmore (ankle) would have missed out on Tuesday, but conversely the likes of Ben Hunter, Anthony Griffiths-Junior and Laurence Gaughan, all desperate for game time, were left frustrated.

Meanwhile top scorer Lewis McMahon, formerly with Sheffield Wednesday and Notts County who had a spell on loan at Matlock last term before making his move to Derbyshire permanent from Gainsborough Trinity in the summer, has been praised by Atkins. McMahon’s header against Grantham was his 18th goal of the season.

“He’s done exceptionally well. I expected between fifteen and twenty goals from him this season so to have eighteen now is fantastic, thoroughly deserved, for he works very hard and takes the chances which come his way. Don’t forget also he’s missed two penalties having not missed one in his career before this season. He’s been excellent.”

Ian Richardson

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