Mark Hume admitted that Saturday’s humiliating 5-0 home thrashing by Darlington was the lowest point of his time at Matlock so far.

The Quakers looked every bit title favourites but they were aided and abetted by an abject performance from Hume’s men, who apart from a fifteen minute spell directly after half time, were out-thought, outfought and outplayed.

It was a third defeat on the trot for the Gladiators and by far the most worrying, even considering the quality that Darlington undoubtedly possess.

Now Matlock face a trip to Darlington’s main title rivals, current leaders Blyth Spartans on Saturday, with the Croft Park outfit desperate to return to winning ways after defeats by Sutton Coldfield Town and Halesowen in their previous two matches. With Darlington winning 4-1 at Stamford on Tuesday night, Spartans lead has been cut to four points with second placed Darlington having three games in hand.

” Firstly I must apologise to the fans and everyone behind the scenes for that performance, I found that very hard to take, all the things we spoke about beforehand were simply not done” lamented a frustrated Hume in midweek.

“The players have again let me, the club and the fans down big time. We were abysmal in the first half, did a little better in the second half before fading again. I don’t want to take anything away from Darlington for they’re easily the best side we’ve played this season and will do what they did to us a few more times before the season ends, but had we played like that and gifted any team in the league goals like we did on Saturday, we’d have been punished. The manner in which we conceded the goals was ridiculous. Then we had a good spell at the start of the second half and even their manager said it could have been 3-3 with the chances we had at 3-0 down. I could have taken defeat had we given it a go and gone down fighting, there could have been some plusses to take into forthcoming games but there was nothing, it was terrible.”

Hume, like the fans, knows Matlock must strengthen their squad. The ease with which Darlington cruised to victory highlights what Matlock are lacking if they are to challenge the leading clubs next season.

“We need two or three more physical players and of course a goalscorer” said Hume. “I’ll say it again some players are playing for their futures
here. I can’t honestly ever being involved in a defeat like that and I don’t want to experience that again. We went in with a game plan but people didn’t do their jobs, I put it down to stupidity, not giving a monkeys or just not being able to do it. I’ve learned a lot this season, an old coach used to say to me, Mark, if they can’t do it after three or four times they’re not going to do it.”

Hume’s first priority is to address the current slide but he also has an eye on next season.

He expects to add a new signing ahead of the Blyth trip and he revealed he has seven days notice in on another potential addition, plus he is planning to add a goalkeeper on a dual registration basis as cover for George Willis with the transfer deadline due in a week’s time.

” If everything goes to plan we’ll have a lad with great ability, I’ll also want him to show the drive and commitment to go with it. He’ll be coming into a side that is currently not playing well, so it won’t be easy for him. I said it last week and the week before, everyone’s got to knuckle down and put in a performance, to show Maxi and me and the fans that they want to be here.”

On loan goalkeeper Willis will remain at the Autoworld Arena for the rest of the season after his loan was further extended. Full back Ben Algar is a week away from a return from his hamstring injury, and although Tom Burgin has slight knocks, everyone else should be available for the trip to Northumberland.

Matlock and Blyth have already met in the FA Trophy this season when Matlock won a game labelled as “the best for many a season at Causeway Lane” by a 4-2 margin.

Ian Richardson

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