With their interest in cup competitions over for the season after a 2-0 FA Trophy defeat at Nantwich last weekend, Matlock boss Mark Hume has left his players in no doubt as to what their aspirations should be for the remainder of the campaign.

“This squad of players should be pushing for the top part and even the play-offs, if not they’re underachieving”.

A first half free kick and a second half penalty were sufficient to knock out an injury hit Matlock side who worked hard and defended better than in recent matches, but on the day did not have the ammunition to seriously trouble the home defence. Even with bringing in utility player Jason Paling, now signed on a permanent basis after an earlier loan spell from Alfreton Town, and nineteen years old striker Daniel Cockerline on a youth loan from Sheffield United, so they could feature in the tie, the Gladiators also had to name injured skipper Danny Holland plus reserve team players Tom Laister and, Matt Wilkinson plus fledgling striker Jack Siddall as substitutes.

“It was a poor game from both teams, I felt we didn’t deserve to be behind at half time but it was a very good free kick. Unfortunately we hadn’t too much on the bench to change things. Don’t get me wrong the reserve lads have done well but they’re not ready yet for the men’s league week in, week out.”

Hume added that there could be at least one new signing ahead of Saturday’s trip to Colwyn Bay which gets the Gladiators festive fixtures under way.

“We’ll look a good deal stronger when the injured lads start to come back, Jason adds competition in that he can challenge for the right back spot with Micky Harcourt and even slot in comfortably on the right of midfield. Daniel’s a big strong lad who can hold the ball up well and with Alex Peterson in the frame as well we should have added firepower.”

Hume is confident his squad can recover from a four game losing sequence to go on a good run which can shoot them up the table. A good start would be three points at Colwyn Bay who are currently rooted in the relegation zone. Matlock,in 17th spot, have a nine point lead over the third bottom Welshmen and also have a game in hand, having only played three league matches since a 2-2 draw at Salford City on October 27.

“When our injuries clear I’m confident we can get the results we need to get up that table” Hume said. “Laurie Wilson shouldn’t be far off a return, we’ve missed him whether it’s at the back or in midfield and along with Danny Holland and Micky Harcourt he’s the voice of our side. We’ve got other good players but they’re not vocal like these three who’ve all been out recently. We need to get our league position right, the cups can get in the way, yet we want to be in them. I’ve told the players there’s no excuses now, we’ve got to kick on in the league by knuckling down and getting results. We want to play well, of course we do, but at the end of the day results are all that matter.”.

Ian Richardson

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