Matlock Town skipper James Lukic reached another landmark on New Years Day by making his 600th appearance for the Gladiators in the 1-1 home derby draw with Buxton.
It represents an awesome achievement by Lukic who made his debut as a sixteen year old against Glossop North End in the Derbyshire Senior Cup in February 1998. Now he is second in Matlock’s all time career records table, behind the Gladiators legend Mick Fenoughty who presented him with a momento from the club prior to kick off against the Bucks. Fenoughty made 672 Matlock appearances.
“It’s a fantastic achievement, he’s been excellent since I’ve been here, Mr Consistency and has played when probably he shouldn’t have through injury to help me and the team, he’s been a real pleasure to manage” said Gladiators boss Mark Atkins.
Chairman Tom Wright echoed his manager’s sentiments adding “It’s rare at any level to have a player with the tremendous loyalty shown by James and he thoroughly deserves every bit of praise he gets. In many ways he’s Mr Matlock Town, a person highly respected not only here at Matlock but throughout the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League and non league football in general.”
Lukic injured a groin in the 4-0 win at Rushall Olympic on Boxing Day but typically recovered after being rated doubtful to make his 599th appearance in Saturday’s 6-1 drubbing at Worksop before facing the Bucks.
It has been a mixed festive programme for Matlock, the Rushall win being the high point. Atkins was not completely happy with the Rushall performance in the first half, but after saying his side “bossed” the second half, he and the Town fans were left shell shocked at Sandy Lane as the Gladiators were marooned at 5-0 down in the opening twenty five minutes.
“We got what we deserved, we weren’t switched on in those opening twenty odd minutes, Okay losing Adam Yates in the warm up was a blow and they took full advantage of Laurence Gaughan’s rustiness. To be fair to him he held his hands up and said he was at fault for four of the goals, he lacked match fitness. But we defended very poorly as a team and didn’t create enough even against ten men.”
Atkins had his squad in for training on Sunday morning.
“It wasn’t a punishment but we needed to sort things out, to let people get things off their chests and it was worthwhile” Atkins added. “We created our downfall on Saturday although you have to give Worksop credit who were absolutely excellent, they were ghreat we were poor. But I thought the reaction in the Buxton game was excellent, it was a vital game for us and we needed to show people what we are all about. We played all the football and were the better side creating enough chances to win it.”
Midfielder Glyn Cotton appears to be on his way out of Matlock after only joining the Gladiators from Frickley in September. Cotton was withdrawn at half time at Worksop and told Atkins he wanted to leave over the weekend. He was not selected against Buxton with Atkins explaining “he wants to go elsewhere but I told him he had to come, however his attitude wasn’t the best and he drove off before the game started after not being named in the team.”
Atkins has two seven day approaches in for players and hopes to have clearance to speak to one of them this week. Midfielder Gareth Davies is likely to be out for two to three weeks after his shin was cut down to his ankle early on at Worksop.
Matlock travel to Blyth Spartans on Saturday with transport leaving the Reynolds Stadium at 8.30 am, contact either Tom Wright on 07850 065968 or the Club Shop on 01629 583866 to book your seat.