Boss Mark Hume wants his Matlock Town side to start taking their chances as the battle to avoid relegation from the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division.

With the bottom four clubs on April 25 set to go down, barring any reprieves which for the past few seasons have saved the likes of Frickley Athletic and Whitby Town among others, seventeenth placed Matlock would be breathing a whole lot easier had they finished off the chances they created in last Wednesday week’s 1-1 draw at Whitby and in the 2-0 loss at third placed Ashton United last weekend. The Gladiators lead fourth bottom Frickley by four points but the Yorkshiremen have a game in hand.

“Not taking chances has bitten us on the bum, especially up at Whitby when they scored right at the end after we should have made it 2-0” said Hume. “Since I’ve been here we’ve always created chances and last weekend was the first time we’d lost by conceding more than one goal so we’ve done quite well defensively. But we need to start taking those chances to ease pressure on the back four, of course it’s far easier to see games out with a two or three goal lead.”

Hume partly accepted bad luck had played its part at Ashton, but added “you can’t task anything away from Ashton, they’re a good, strong side who’ll definitely make the play offs. But their first goal was an own goal which Julian (Banton) should probably have headed clear and the late second goal we reckon was a foul on Kendo. He’s got stud marks around his knee and eight out of ten times you tend to get those decisions going your way. But again we had great chances to score and I’d have expected Jamie (McDonagh) and Otis (Khan) to have scored them. We’re playing good football but we can’t go on missing chances.”

Matlock dropped a place in the standings after Witton Albion did their survival chances a world of good with home wins against Skelmersdale United and Rushall Olympic this week. The rest of the Tuesday night results seemed to go largely the Gladiators’ way as Frickley and Marine had home draws against King’s Lynn and Blyth Spartans respectively while both Stamford and Ramsbottom United both lost 1-0 at home in games against Curzon Ashton and Barwell.

So a fantastic February for Matlock has been followed by a moderate March which has seen them win one, draw one and lose their other three matches before they welcome play off chasing Curzon Ashton to the Autoworld Arena on Saturday.

“To be honest a team of Curzon’s calibre should be going to Stamford and winning, with a bit of luck they might come to us thinking the same thing” Hume said. “But I repeat, I’m not interested in anyone else, it’s what we do that counts. Our good form last month has put what happens in our own hands, it’s there for us and we need to see it through. It’s down to us as players and management to do whats required. It should be a good game on Saturday, I feel we’re due some points because there’s been little wrong with our general performances, it’s just finishing those chances off.”

It’s transfer deadline day today (Thursday) in the NPL and Hume looks set to add to his squad after sending on loan striker Danny Frost back to Bradford Park Avenue.

“Danny’s gone back to Bradford, his attitude’s not been what it should have been” Hume explained. “We told him when he came he wouldn’t be starting straightaway, the lads had just won four on the bounce so it was difficult to change things. He let us down for the Whitby game last week with a late call saying he couldn’t make it and that’s just not acceptable. To be fair to Bradford they’ve apologized, the two clubs get on splendidly. They are dealing with Danny but it’s left us a bit short. I could have got someone other in than Danny when I went for him and that’s frustrating. I’m hoping to get one if not two more lads in and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get at least one.”

Full back Oscar Radford should return in the Curzon clash after missing the last two games with a coccyx injury. Micky Harcourt may also come back with two of Hume’s management team, Grant Black and Scott Maxfield probably stepping down. Illness forced Danny Holland off at half time against Ashton but he is now fully recovered and is likely to lead the Gladiators into a battle where three points against a good side would be a huge boost.

Adam Yates, who damaged a finger in an accident in the gym last week is probably still another week away from rejoining the match day squad.

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Nikki Trueman said she was “shattered” but “over the moon” after a long but rewarding day as former and some present day Matlock Town and Belper Town footballers took to the Autoworld Arena on Sunday to raise funds for “Team Ernie”.

Nikki’s father, 65 years old former Chesterfield striker and former manager of both the Gladiators and the Nailers, has the early signs of Pick’s disease, a form of dementia that once also affected former West Bromwich Albion and England centre forward Jeff Astle.

The weather could not have been better as a perfect Sunny Spring day greeted players and spectators to a fun day where there was also a tombola and a bouncy castle in the ground plus a raffle.

An estimated 150 crowd watched Belper come out on top 2-0 thanks to a brace from their prolific goalscorer Jon Froggatt in an entertaining game officiated by Chesterfield referee Paul Thompson, ably assisted by Rob Rees and Kevin Marchant on the line.

“We’ve raised 1025 pounds which is absolutely brilliant” said a happy Nikki.

“It was a fantastic day and the family and me would like to thank everyone who was there, whether as a worker, playing, officiating or as a spectator. The support was magnificent. We’d also like to thank Matlock Town and their officials for their help and kindness in staging the match. Dad really enjoyed himself, it was really great to see all the lads again.”

Former Matlock physio Micky Cunningham took charge of the ex Gladiators who included the likes of James Lukic, Steve Taylor, Rockie White, Craig Hopkins and Steve Circuit while Paul Bennett, once the Belper kit man was pleased to field Steve Warne, Froggatt, Asa Ingall, Dan White and Andy Rushbury in his line up.

Ian Richardson

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