Joint boss Dave Rushbury was a relatively happy man despite Tuesday night’s home Doodson Sports League Cup exit to Ilkeston.

For Rushbury and fellow hot seat occupant Martin Foster it’s about seeing the bigger picture.

Danny Holland netted his tenth goal of the campaign from the spot to give the Gladiators all three points at Stamford last weekend, to earn only their second away league victory of the season.

But in midweek the Matlock management team opted for a more youthful approach against an Ilkeston team which also relied heavily on youth, the Robins side having a smattering of first team players but also many from their successful academy.

A 10th minute Michael Williams goal saw Matlock exit a cup competition at the opening hurdle for the third time this season, and while in an ideal world, Matlock would have wanted the win, the loss was not the be all and end all and it was Matlock’s second half performance that had Rushbury smiling.

“We put out a young side and said to them can you grab a shirt? At half time we would probably have said no, we made Ilkeston who are a good side look better by not pressing them. We stood off them and sides of that quality will pass the ball around you. They did, they scored and in the end it proved decisive. But once we got hold of the game we were the better side and in the second half Jon Kennedy had very little to do. The back three were magnificent, it was both a solid and a positive second half performance. We didn’t create very much at all in the first half but we looked more dangerous after the interval. These young lads will need experienced lads to come in alongside them and they’ll develop. The crowd too were very supportive, I think they understood what we were trying to do.”

A pattern ran through the second half on Tuesday and during most of the Stamford win. Matlock need to be more clinical in front of goal.

“But the killer instinct needs to be in the whole team, not in just two or three of them” Rushbury continued. “Players are sometimes slow to react and that can be the difference between scoring a goal or not. Good teams finish off their chances. We’re not as clinical as we’d all like to be, but it’s up to us as managers and the lads to develop that and it’ll take time. Had we taken our chances at Stamford we wouldn’t have been sweating on Jon Kennedy’s penalty save and fine stops at the end to ensure our win.”

The win and Stamford’s subsequent home defeat on Tuesday to basement club Belper edged Matlock closer to the Daniels who are one point and one place above them, having played one game less than Town. But the Daniels have picked up just eight points from their last thirteen games, having secured maximum points from their first five matches.

There is also a chink of daylight between 17th placed Matlock and teams below them but the Gladiators have some tough tests on the horizon, beginning at third placed Curzon Ashton on Saturday and followed by a visit from mid table Rushall Olympic on Tuesday.

“It was an awesome performance at Stamford and for the first time in ages we had a bit of luck but we deserved it. We’re looking forward to playing Curzon and Rushall for we’re doing well and making life hard for teams. We need to move forward and carry on accumulating points.”

Changes are certain at Curzon where Oscar Radford, Micky Harcourt and Danny Holland should all return, but Corey Gregory will be missing for two to three weeks with shoulder ligament damage which forced his 16th minute withdrawal at Stamford.

Striker Andre Johnson (19) joined the Gladiators last Friday after scoring sixteen goals for Worksop Town in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division so far this season. Johnson, who is at Matlock on a dual registration basis with the Tigers, was formerly at Derby County Academy and started his first game for the Gladiators in midweek.

“Andre had a run out and he’ll learn at this level that he can’t just be a goalscorer, it’s also about learning to contribute to the group, rather than being an individual, but we believe that in time, he’ll do that” Rushbury concluded.

The scheduled trip to King’s Lynn on Saturday week has been postponed due to the Linnets continued involvement in the FA Trophy so the Gladiators will now travel to Ilkeston FC (3PM kick off) in the league meanwhile Buxton will visit the Autoworld Arena in the 3rd Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup in a tie now scheduled for Wednesday the 10th of December with a 7:45PM kick off.

Ian Richardson

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