With two Saturday home league matches on the trot, Matlock manager Mark Atkins wants a positive response from his players after defeat at Nantwich Town last weekend saw them slide uncomfortably into the relegation zone.

The 3-1 reverse saw Matlock end up third from the foot of the table, and with four clubs going down, the league is uncomfortable reading for Gladiators’ fans.

“We’re only nine games into the season so there’s plenty of time to turn things around, but we do need to start taking the chances that come our way and prove that we’re strong enough to pull through” said Atkins after the 2-1 friendly win at Rossington Main on Monday evening.

Whitby Town are the first visitors this weekend while newly promoted Halesowen Town, surprisingly a place below Matlock, come to the Autoworld Arena seven days later. Opportunity knocks for Matlock to improve on a disappointing tally of just eight points so far and the one league win, 3-1 at home to Barwell on August 29.

“We’ve got to be looking at getting three points at home every game, our home record last year was very good and we need to replicate that. We lost to Stamford but on the night they played very well but we could easily have won the other games. If we can be positive, we stand a good chance of getting the six points.”

Atkins hinted that his side is their own worst enemy as he looked back at the Nantwich setback.

“We had enough chances, especially in the second half to not only come away with a point but to win the game. We’re again disappointed with the goals we’ve given away, and we’ve missed five or six chances. On the day Nantwich defended better than we did and as I said last week, we’ve got to be better in both boxes as that’s where we came unstuck again.”

On the playing front Matlock could include defender Lawrence Gorman in their squad on Saturday after he played the full ninety minutes at Rossington. Goram, formerly with Nottingham Forest is at Matlock on a dual registration basis with Conference Premier neighbors Alfreton Town and has been drafted in as cover primarily for Micky Harcourt who Atkins believes ids two to three weeks from a return.

David Haggerty missed the match at the Weaver Stadium after coming off with a leg injury during the home FA Cup defeat by Ilkeston and Atkins added that he is “touch and go” for facing Whitby.

The Town boss though was impressed by new loan signing Jamie Yates who lasted seventy minutes at Nantwich and came on as a substitute to score a spectacular winner at Rossington.

“Jamie did really well, the game on Saturday plus playing at Rossington will do him a world of good for he hasn’t had a lot of playing time at North Ferriby. His quality will come the fitter he gets. The Rossington game was very useful in terms of a number of players needing game time so they can come in better prepared if needed. It was a good work out, the score didn’t really matter but I was pleased with what I saw from a number of players.”

Atkins added that he has a number of seven day approaches in for players, at least one is believed to be a striker.

On Sunday the Autoworld Arena hosts a charity game between a Phil Walker and Mark Crossley X1 including Atkins and former Gladiators striker Steve Taylor, and Once Upon A smile FC, whose line up consists of a mixture of soap and television stars and former footballers. It is in aid of the Haematology Unit at King’s Mill Hospital and the day has been organized by Phil Walker, scorer of Matlock’s spectacular goal in the 4-1 FA Cup 1st Round loss at Scunthorpe United in November 1989, and his son Jamie, who is in remission after suffering from Hodgkins Lymphona. Kick off is at 3 pm. Further details on the event can be found on the Matlock Town FC website www.matlocktownfc.co.uk

Ian Richardson

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