Matlock boss Mark Atkins has told his squad not to let the season ebb away as their 2-0 home victory against King’s Lynn Town last Saturday rekindled hopes of a push for the play offs.
A double from last season’s top marksman Lewis McMahon, coupled with a tremendous defensive display and some fine goalkeeping by Jon Kennedy saw the Gladiators see off fourth placed Lynn who had won their previous four league games, and earn Matlock their first league double of the campaign.
McMahon made it four goals for the season, all against the Norfolk club for he had also bagged a brace in the 4-0 romp at The Walks in September.
The win saw Matlock back in the top half in eleventh and while they have a lot of hard work in front of them if they are to finish in the top five, Atkins is determined that they will make a decent fist of things.
“I told the lads after the game on Saturday that we mustn’t just play the season out, let’s go out there determined to win every game and see where we end up” said Atkins.
The Gladiators have been in excellent nick at the Reynolds Stadium with only Chorley having gone home with maximum points. Atkins men have conceded just a miserly eight goals in their thirteen home league matches so far.
But away from home they are without a win since the 3-1 verdict at Stafford Rangers on October 12 and if Matlock are to finish in a play off spot, their form on the road has obviously got to improve. They have won four games on opposition soil but have lost eight. They have twice as many home points than they have picked up on their travels.
So opportunity knocks at Stamford on Saturday, a team they beat convincingly, albeit only 2-0 through a Danny Holland brace back in September in Derbyshire.
Stamford are on the edge of the relegation zone but as Atkins points out, have shown improved form lately.
“Stamford have had some good results recently to get out of the bottom four so we know we’ll face another tough game down there. We must continue to work as hard as we’ve done recently and I’m hoping we’ll be buoyed by a very good performance against a very good King’s Lynn last weekend. King’s Lynn were on a good run and apart from a couple of scares which we got away with, we were worth the win and had some good chances taking two of them. Our away results haven’t been anywhere near those at home but I think the performances have been generally okay apart from not taking the chances we’ve created. That’s something we need to correct for we need to start picking up all three points away from home” Atkins stressed.
McMahon won’t be able to build on his brace from last weekend at Stamford due to a groin injury which forced him off in the 76th minute last Saturday. But that will likely give Shaun Tuton the opportunity to partner Danny Holland once again, Tuton coming on for Daryl Thomas two thirds of the way through last weekend’s win.
“Lewis has had a tough season through injuries and hasn’t been able to find his best form but we know he’s got the quality and knows where the goal is” Atkins continued. “Shaun hadn’t trained all week and after his hamstring injury we didn’t want to risk him too much on a muddy pitch but when he came on I felt he gave us something extra.”
The Gladiators will now play Buxton twice in the final month of the season. Their clash at the Silverlands was abandoned at half time on Boxing Day through floodlight failure and had originally been rearranged for Wednesday February 26. But Buxton’s home meeting with Stamford was called off last weekend through an unfit pitch and has now been set for February 26, meaning that the A6 derby will now take place at the `Silverlands on Wednesday April 9. The return at the Reynolds Stadium is currently Matlock’s last home game of the season on April 21.