Bouncebackability was the name of the game for Matlock on Tuesday night–and they certainly did that!

After the disappointment in losing the lead at newly promoted Trafford on Saturday-and then the match-the Gladiators roared to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels in front of their own fans three days later.

“We were all aware that Saturday wasn’t good enough and we therefore only knew too well how important winning our first home game was after Saturday” reflected a much happier Matlock boss Mark Atkins.

“We want to try and make our home games really difficult for opposing clubs and I thought against Stocksbridge we were strong and played some fine attacking football. I also think we were unlucky only to win 3-0. What also pleased me was the clean sheet. Their ploy was to get balls into the box and we defended them very well”.

New signing Darryl Thomas added to the season’s opener at Trafford with a brace in midweek, while Matlock’s other scorer against a Steels side who fielded a trio of ex Gladiators in Chris Bettney, Nathan Joynes and James Knowles was Lavelle White.

White, signed from Eastwood Town in February has often flattered to deceive in games to date for his latest club, but Atkins has kept the faith with him and praised both scorers against Stocksbridge.

“Darryl’s an out and out goalscorer, he knows where the goal is, that’s three in two games now. He’s missed a bit of pre-season but we know he’s got an eye for a goal and we hope that will carry on. Lavelle’s done well and on Tuesday he was great, we set up differently and bringing in Lavelle added pace to the team and we created a lot of chances that were not taken.”

Atkins is hoping that Matlock can maintain the intensity from Tuesday in their Bank Holiday programme which sees Nantwich Town visit the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday before the Gladiators face a derby at Worksop Town forty eight hours later.

They will certainly not want to be reminded of results in the corresponding fixtures last season. Nantwich thrashed Matlock 5-0 on the opening day and over Christmas Matlock found themselves five goals adrift in the opening twenty four minutes as they were hammered 6-1.

“They’ll be two tough games but really they’re all tough”said Atkins. “Nantwich have a new manager and a very good one in Danny Johnson who’s also a close friend but I’ll be looking for us to play as we did against Stocksbridge and if we can do that we should be alright. We also need to be solid as we were on Tuesday,especially away from home. We’ll need to do that at Worksop where you always have a hard match.”

Atkins will again have to do without the services of five probable first teamers. Last season’s top scorer Lewis McMahon completes his four game ban with the Worksop trip while club skipper James Lukic, player of the year Adam Yates, full back Lee Featherstone and midfielder Anton Foster are all on the injured list. Lukic though could resume training tonight (Thursday) under the watchful medical eye of former Alfreton boss Dave Rushbury and receive further treatment along with Yates on a dead leg which looks like keeping him out for longer than was first thought.

But Atkins has strengthened his squad by signing 19 year old Jordan Snodin, a midfielder released by Leeds United in the summer.

“He’s a good footballer with a good touch who can see a pass so he’ll be a good asset to the squad” said Atkins.

IAN RICHARDSON

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