Gladiators joint boss Craig Hopkins says new signing Michael Williams from Ilkeston is just the ticket as Matlock strive to build on a solid foundation of two draws from their opening two league games.

Saturday’s goalless stalemate at Corby was followed by a 1-1 draw with Skelmersdale United at the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on Tuesday night leaving Matlock undefeated but still without a win and in 14th spot.

“Michael Williams signing shows just what we’re after” said Hopkins after Williams made his debut from the bench at half time in midweek to spark a more businesslike performance from his new team who dominated the second period.

“We’d been trying to sign him all the time we’d been at Mickleover, he’ll be a fans’ favourite that’s for sure as he’s the type of lad who’ll give you everything, a young local lad (he lives at Westhouses) who gives 100% in every game, an old fashioned kind of player. He did ever so well when he came on and certainly made a difference.”

Williams (22), has spent the last six years with the Robins and trialled at National League Premier Division Solihull Moors during the summer. But he returned to the New Manor Ground as Ilkeston prepared for the new campaign which began with them being suspended from the Evo-Stik NPL for alleged problems relating to the payment of monies to outstanding creditors.

On his move, Williams, scorer of ten goals last season said “It’s sad to leave but I think it’s something that’s right for me at this time, time to spread my wings and give myself a new goal.”

Hopkins will be hoping that draws can be upgraded into victories this week as Matlock host Nantwich Town on Saturday before being at home again to Sutton Coldfield Town on Tuesday evening. The Sutton game has been switched to Derbyshire due to issues with the Royals’ 3G surface, with Matlock now travelling to Coles Lane in April.

“It’s been an okay start, a decent point at Corby where we were solid but didn’t have enough penetration in the final third. Then in the first forty five minutes against Skelmersdale we were poor, we didn’t pass well, we were sluggish as if people were waiting for somebody else to do something. It was a much better second half, we played with a greater intensity even though we got a bit too desperate towards the end. Against ten men we needed to get the balls wide, panic set in a bit with us shooting from thirty yards. Really we had enough shots to have won five games but lacked guile and patience.”

Now Hopkins says Matlock must put in “ninety minute performances.”

“We thank the fans for their backing but this is only the start and they need to be patient with us. They clapped us off on Tuesday but we’d only given them a forty five minute performance, so starting on Saturday we’ve got to give them a ninety minutes like they saw in the second half tonight and us take our chances. We both keep telling the players that Matlock have a good crowd who will back them to the hilt if they can see the effort and the application being put in,”

Before kicking off against Nantwich, Matlock might know their FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round opponents as Heanor Town take on Long Eaton United at the Town Ground on Friday night to see who will visit the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on September 3. Hopkins and Kirkwood are former joint bosses of Heanor while former Matlock favourite Paul Riley plays with United.

Ian Richardson

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