New bosses Dave Rushbury and Martin Foster take their Matlock Town side to Halesowen Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday in good heart after Tuesday night’s vital 3-0 home win against Frickley Athletic.

It was an important six pointer as Matlock moved within a point of the Yorkshire side having played one game less. They jumped two spots up the table to 18th and it was a positive reaction following the no-show at Workington which saw the Gladiators lose another six pointer by a 2-1 margin.

Reflecting on the Workington match first, Rushbury said there were no excuses for a lack lustre show.

“We didn’t play the conditions properly, we didn’t read the game” he said.

“It was very annoying that Workington got two sloppy goals, really we beat ourselves. we started on the back foot and although we got a little better we came back too late.”

But Rushbury along with Foster, who returned from a family holiday in Scotland before travelling back north, were far happier after Danny Holland, an own goal from Frickley goalkeeper James Green and a late Joe Leesley strike saw Matlock make it ten points from the six matches under the pair’s caretaker stewardship.

“On Tuesday Martin and me decided to pick a side to pass and play with the ball. There wasn’t a rigid formation, we wanted to move the ball quickly but to be still tight at the back. I think it worked a treat!”

Matlock could even afford a Danny Holland penalty being saved by Green as they wore Frickley down to finish convincing winners.

“We’re trying to develop this philosophy in the club” Rushbury continued. “We’re a passing team but to pass well for ninety minutes means you have to have a good level of fitness. You can never always be satisfied but as a group they took on board what we’re trying to do and they had the courage to see it through. It can be hard when the opposition are trying to close you down but I thought we were outstanding. We pressurized Frickley by moving the ball and Frickley got tired of chasing the ball and eventually they capitulated.”

Halesowen were 4-0 winners at Matlock a month ago in Atkins’ last game, so the Gladiators will be looking for revenge at The Grove. After departing the FA Cup at the first hurdle against Ilkeston, a good result on Saturday takes on added significance.

“Halesowen are a big strong and fit unit, they’re well organised and were much stronger thanks at Matlock when we weren’t firing on all cylinders. The key is to make Halesowen chase the ball a bit more. We’ll take a good luck at the game beforehand and if we need to make changes to get a result we will do. We’ll go there with our own philosophy and we hope the lads have it in them to know that we owe them one.”

Matlock will be without skipper Liam Needham and also Jason Stokes who limped off close to half time with an ankle injury against Frickley. Player of the Year David Haggerty also had to come off with his calf injury not having fully recovered and will be assessed at training. Micky Harcourt came through his first full game in eight weeks and like Joe Leesley has some tight muscles. Phil Roe took “a knock” but like Harcourt and Leesley should be fit to face the Yeltz.

If Saturday’s game is drawn the replay is set for the Autoworld Arena on Tuesday night.

A win or defeat at Halesowen will see Matlock head to Stamford on Tuesday unless the Daniels do not have to replay their Trophy clash with Barwell.

Rushbury watched Stamford win 2-1 at Ilkeston on Monday and he was impressed.

“They’re another strong, well organized unit and I think they’ve the most potent front three in the league” said Rushbury. “But the three points against Frickley eases the pressure a little bit. It’ll take a few weeks to get everyone firing. We’re playing catch-up in both points and getting players 100% fit, so it might be that we have to shuffle the pack and strengthen”

Matlock were saddened by the news of President and former Treasurer Mick Tomlinson’s death on Monday. The 83 year old passéd away after a short illness. He served the Gladiators as Treasurer from 1967 to 2010 before becoming President. A minute’s silence was observed by players and fans prior to Tuesday’s game when the Matlock players wore black armbands as a mark of respect. A tribute to Mick will appear in a forthcoming press release.

Ian Richardson

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