Matlock will be wanting their debut game at their newly named Autoworld Arena to be a memorable one as they aim to bounce back from an out of character hammering at Rushall last weekend.

Second in the table Skelmersdale United are at the Autoworld, and following league leaders Chorley losing at home to Rushall on Tuesday night, will still feel they are well in the chase for the championship.

As far as the Gladiators are concerned, it is a case of proving that the 6-1 reverse was a one off and that lessons have been learned from a crazy second half when all six goals were conceded, this after Shaun Tuton had given them an interval lead.

“I don’t think anyone saw that coming” said manager Mark Atkins in midweek, having had time to take in what had happened.

“It was bizarre from us and our worst defensive forty five minutes of the season. Over the season when we’ve got in front we’ve defended our goal very well but I think a bit of complacency set in. We did silly things, took chances defensively, something we hadn’t been doing and credit to Rushall they punished that.”

Atkins was reasonably satisfied with Matlock’s first half showing.

“We did quite well, Shaun got us a good goal and we went in at half time in front and reasonably happy. However we talked about it being more difficult going uphill and that Rushall’s strength is from set pieces. We gave away too many free kicks, they scored from two of them and in fact we gave them five of the six goals which is hugely disappointing. Let’s hope that’s a one off and lessons have been learned in that you have to play for the full ninety minutes, not just forty five.”

Opportunity now knocks for Matlock to maintain their fine home record which has seen only Chorley go away with all three points so far in a campaign which has seen them concede a miserly eight goals in fifteen outings. Grantham Town are the visitors on Tuesday following Skelmersdale and Atkins says Matlock face two tough games.

“With Chorley losing on Tuesday Skelmersdale will come here looking to claw back more ground, while Grantham as we saw recently at their place are a strong side and we must be prepared to stand up to them. But our home form has been good and we need to be as solid here as we’ve been all season and we’ve got to make life difficult for both teams.”

Full back Micky Harcourt picked up an ankle knock during the first half at Rushall which forced him off after the interval but with a week’s rest, Atkins reckons he should be fit to face Skem.

“Everyone else is okay apart from some punctured egos. Saturday and Tuesday give us the chance to put last Saturday’s wrongs right.”

IAN RICHARDSON

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