Saturday’s trip to second bottom Whitby could fill Matlock fans with more trepidation than next Tuesday’s game at high flying Salford City, given their form against struggling clubs this campaign.

Last weekend’s shock home defeat to Stamford followed a recent surprise away loss at Grantham, while 14th placed Matlock have also only drawn at home to Colwyn Bay and been beaten at Skelmersdale and Mickleover, also below them in the league table.

Yet just four days before the Stamford loss, Mark Hume’s men went to high flying Nantwich and emerged with a fine 2-2 draw and were unlucky not to bring home maximum points. While Rushall and Ashton have also been beaten and are below Town in the table, both are now widely regarded as strong sides, the Gladiators actually recording a league double over the Pics.

“I make it eight or nine points we’ve dropped against lesser sides and you add that on to our points total and we’d be in the top six or so in the league” said Hume. “We went to Nantwich and after a nightmare first five minutes we got back into the game and were probably the better side for the last eighty five. Then we get that poor performance on Saturday but even then we ought to have won comfortably, apart from me and Maxi (Scott Maxfield) going on to put the ball in the net ourselves there wasn’t much more either of us could do.”

Matlock have managed only six goals in nine home league and cup matches so far this term and Hume said the Stamford defeat had put him in a bad mood for days.

” I’ve been like a bear with a sore head and the players knew it at training on Tuesday. Certain chances we missed were unforgiveable, if we could have taken one or two of them they (Stamford) would have buckled, but they were still in the game and we get done from a set piece, which to be fair we said was the only way they’d score past us. We’ve got to get into the mentality of destroying these lesser sides.Their goalkeeper’s done well but with some he was nowhere near. We said it a week or two ago, we can’t go on missing chances and the lads know that if this continues somebody else will be brought in to step into their shoes. That defeat made it something of a wasted point at Nantwich”.

Hume added that he is working hard to bring in a couple of attacking players, plus another defender, although he believes it will be unlikely that the squad will be added to before the trip to the Yorkshire coast.

He has though sent loanees Jordan Deacey and Jason Paling back to Boston United and Alfreton Town respectively now that their one month deals have expired.

Whitby were well beaten at basement club Ramsbottom United by a 4-1 margin in midweek, which gave the Lancashire side their first win of the season. After beating Stourbridge 4-0 at home on the opening day of the season, the Seasiders have only tasted victory once more, against Ilkeston at the Turnbull Ground, 4-2 on September 26.

Matlock have an opportunity to record their second league double of the campaign after a late Niall McManus strike gave them all three points at the Autoworld Arena in August.

“We want them to go up there and to Salford and play like they did at Nantwich. I asked them if they were conning me after the game on Saturday as I couldn’t understand the difference in the performance level from the midweek game. We don’t want them to go there with any sense of pressure, they need to relax and play like they’re capable of. I know we’ve been up and down but I think we’re moving in the right direction. If we weren’t creating chances then I’d be really worried” Hume concluded.

McManus should return to the squad after missing out against Stamford through a family bereavement but he will missing again for the Salford game.

Ian Richardson

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