Will Bank Holiday Monday’s terrific recovery at Belper kickstart Matlock Town’s season?

Manager Mark Atkins and the fans hope it will as the Gladiators clawed back a 3-1 deficit on 86 minutes to earn a deserved point at the Marstons Stadium. The visitors had twice been two goals behind but a brace from Danny Holland, now on 4 goals for the season accounted for his side’s opening two strikes before Jason Stokes smashed in the equalizer at the beginning of stoppage time. Holland might have finished with a hat-trick, but saw Nailers goalkeeper James Martin save his 15th minute penalty.

“Let’s hope it does for it was a big positive for us getting the draw from the position we were in” said Atkins. “We spoke about it afterwards and the importance of showing the qualities in our recovery in the forthcoming games starting against Barwell on Friday night.”

Matlock looked more threatening as an attacking force than they had all season, but looked strangely out of sorts defensively.

“We don’t usually give goals away like we did on Monday through our middle, so obviously that’s something we’ve got to stop doing and again we’ve spoken about how we can address that. Going forward I thought we started very well although that final ball let us down a little but Danny scored with two fantastic headers but would be disappointed not to score with the penalty. That can happen to anyone though and we could so easily have won the game as was the case on Saturday. This is such a tight league. We deserved to beat Blyth on Saturday, we had four good opportunities which we didn’t take but I thought we showed a great reaction to going 1-0 down just before half time. It was a big plus for us in the way we attacked the game in the second half.”

That 1-1 draw with Blyth coupled with Monday’s point still sees Matlock searching for their first league win of the season, but at least they are out of the bottom four, moving up to 17th spot.

“In my view the situation’s not as bleak as our tally of league points suggests” Atkins maintains. “But it would be nice to get that first win and we now face two tight games against Barwell at home and at Frickley on Tuesday against sides who have their own way of playing and can make life tough for you. But if we can get the ball down and play we’re more than capable of coming out on top.”

Holland’s good performances are the more remarkable as Atkins revealed he is playing with an injury.

“Danny wants to play though and help us out which is fantastic commitment from him and an example to the other players” the manager continued.

Zeph Thomas missed the Belper clash with a thigh injury and although Atkins says one or two of his squad are carrying knocks, everyone should be fit to take on Barwell, including James Ashmore who comes into contention after a knee injury saw him miss the whole of the pre season build up. Phil Roe will not feature but should be able to begin training next week with his foot injury clearing up.

Atkins has also been busy trying to add to his squad and says some seven day notices for players will soon be issued.

IAN RICHARDSON

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