How does a team bring home valuable and hard earned points from tough
midweek trips to promotion chasing Nantwich and on Tuesday Salford City,
beat strong sides in Ashton United and Rushall Olympic, yet lose to bottom
four sides Stamford, Grantham Town and Whitby Town?

Matlock Town have done just that and it’s had Mark Hume scratching his head
as to why, now he thinks he has the answer.

Speaking after the 2-2 draw against Salford Hume reckons “it’s a mental
thing.”

“It’s got to be, they’ve taken the struggling teams too lightly and to lose
to the lesser sides doesn’t make sense. That was three more points dropped
on Saturday and when you add all the points up that we should have been
getting, it would put us in the play off positions.”

Another unpredictable week in the Gladiators season began at Whitby where
Matlock went two goals down and have Harry Coates sent off before half
time, only to dominate the second half with a man less, but only have what
proved to be a consolation goal from Joel Purkiss to show for their efforts.

Then against a Salford side through to the FA Cup First Round and a home
tie with Notts County, Matlock fought like trojans and matched their big
spending opponents in every position, thoroughly deserving their 2-2 draw
which. might even have been bettered.

Although he was angry at the time with the refereeing decisions at Whitby
which saw the hosts awarded a penalty for their second goal and the
Gladiators denied what looked a stonewall spot kick in stoppage time, Hume
later said

“I’m not buying into all the talk of the refereeing decisions, we make our
own luck and up until then we weren’t on the ball and applying ourselves
like we should have done. The sending off was right, the penalty wasn’t but
it’s gone and again it’s a mental thing. In the second half with ten men we
were well on top, looked the fitter and it’s so frustrating and annoying
because we have good players. But I’ve told them we can’t carry on like
this, not taking our chances and playing like we all know we can, I’ve got
some seven day approaches in and the lads know they’re playing for their
futures here.”

Moving on to the Salford result and performance Hume added

“Salford are a very good side, the best we’ve played, they’ve been drubbing
some sides but we could so easily have won it. They got a penalty and
looked home and dry but we showed fantastic resilience to go up the other
end and level it. But now we need to back this up, Gresley in the FA Trophy
on Saturday being a case in point. We have to have and show the same mental
attitude as we had at Salford, the players need to believe that bit more in
themselves, we need to beat teams in lower positions than ourselves to make
the good points we’ve got at places like Nantwich and Salford all the more
useful to us.”

A prolonged run in the FA Trophy is all the more important after the pain
of the FA Cup exit to Whitley Bay. Matlock should not underestimate Gresley
having found the net just six times at home all season. Hume will have at
least one enforced change, Harry Coates being out after collecting five
cautions, with a further ban added on after the Whitby sending off.

The Matlock boss will also check with Sheffield United on goalkeeper George
Willis who missed both games this week after turning an ankle in training,
Lewis King being recalled to deputise.

Niall McManus should return after a family funeral ruled him out against
Salford and Hume says he will be speaking with Alfreton Town about the
possibility of extending striker Sam Smith’s loan.

While Smith has failed to find the net in his month’s loan at Matlock which
expired this week, Hume has been pleased with him.

“I’d like to keep him for he’s done okay, the problem’s been he’s lacked a
goal, and easy chances become hard ones which increases the pressure,”

Should Saturday’s tie end in a draw the replay is set for Tuesday night at
the Moat Ground.

Ian Richardson

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