Having faced and conquered two fellow promotion rivals in Whitby Town and Buxton, Matlock Town now face three successive games against relegation haunted sides,
The Gladiators travel to second bottom Skelmersdale United tonight (Thursday) before a visit to the New Manor Ground to meet crisis club Ilkeston follows on Monday afternoon. Matlock then face basemanrt club Corby Town at the DCJ Group Arena on Saturday week.
The 3-1 Boxing Day victory over Buxton at the DCJ was memorable for it was the Gladiators first at home in the league against the Bucks since Good Friday 2008, and it also attracted a bumper gate of 1051.
Joint boss Glenn Kirkwood said managemant and playing staff were aware of the long wait for a home win over Buxton and were determined to end that winless run,
“We knew all about that and told the lads beforehand of the need to put on a performance and give our fans something to cheer. Football fans aren’t stupid, they know when lads are not working hard but we expected the hard working performance we got. It was a shame we lost Marcus Dinanga through illness a few hours before kick off but we looked into the eyes of the players an hour or so before kick off and they were chomping at the bit so our job was more about keeping them calm. The three points was the main thing. we’re absolutely delighted with the result for make no mistake, they’re (Buxton) a good side, up there for a reason, Martin McIntosh and Tim Ryan have done a great job there and Buxton will be up there challenging at the end of the season.”
On the four figure crowd, Kirkwood said it was “unbelievable”.
“What a fantastic turnout and if you can get an early goal then you get the crowd on your side. Once we got the goal after a relatively quiet twenty minutes the crowd livened up, we’re so happy for the fans, it was great to see so many people there. They helped us when we had to be brave in the second half when the wind increased and was blowing strongly in our faces. Buxton put us under a lot of pressure for twenty odd minutes but we did well to restrict their chances”.
So attention now turns to the visit to Skelmersdale, who have recently released a number of players due to financial constraints but rallied from two goals down to earn a 3-3 draw at Marine on Boxing Day.
“Me and Hoppo have been in the game long enough to know that any team can beat anyone else in this league, so if we’re not quite at it, we’ll be beaten” Kirkwood warned. “So we need to be on our toes and be focused, all we want to do is win football matches and this one is the most important as it’s our next game.We’ll not be thinking about Ilkeston until after the Skelmersdale game, but on the Ilkeston game we will approach it as we would any other game, there’ll be no difference in our mentality, there’ll be a good crowd at Ilkeston who’ll want to bounce back from their defeat (7-0) at Mickleover.”
Full back Jake Green will need a fitness check after coming off against Buxton with a foot injury. Leading scorer Dinanga should be available again and Matlock could also include a new striker in their squad. Cameron Johnson, meanwhile, a striker recently signed from Boston United, is out of the reckoning at present, as he is awaiting the results of a scan on an ankle injury.
Kirkwood gave the fans a new year message.
“We’re happy so far but we’ll not rest on our laurels, we’re still work in progress and we’re always looking to improve. We all wish the fans a happy new year and thank them for their support during our first six months in charge.”