Craig Hopkins praised the support from the Matlock public and appealed for a huge turnout to back the Gladiators in a vital home clash against Rushall Olympic on Saturday.

The Matlock joint boss was talking after the midweek scoreless draw at second placed Nantwich Town which came hot on the heels of last weekend’s convincing 3-0 home victory against Ashton United which attracted another encouraging attendance of 453.

With Derby County in action in a televised game at home to QPR on Friday and Chesterfield away at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, Hopkins and Matlock officials are clearly hoping that local Rams and Spireites fans will be at the DCJ Group Arena backing the Gladiators.

“The support we got was brilliant last Saturday, we need them and more to all come again this Saturday” said Hopkins.

“Our crowds have been fantastic, 453 last Saturday and it feels like there’s 600 in when they get behind us,believe me it really makes a difference and is appreciated by us all.”

There were maybe 20 visiting fans last weekend and attendances have taken a marked upward trend since shortly before Christmas, a massive 1051 watched the Boxing Day derby victory against Buxton.

Matlock remain in contention for a play off spot even though results did not go their way last weekend. But in midweek, Whitby Town were held to a home draw by Stafford Rangers and Warrington Town lost at home to Spennymoor Town, those scores clearly helping Matlock’s cause although Buxton won again beating relegation threatened Frickley Athletic at the Silverlands.

However the last two performances have indicated that Matlock intend to fight on until the bitter end.

“Against Ashton we worked really hard in the first half without the quality we needed but in the second half we played at a tempo, there was a lot more quality in that final third particularly and we finished deserved winners. The lads also really wanted to keep a clean sheet. At home we’ve played really well, we’ve beaten Ashton and Stafford in our last two home matches 3-0 and they are both decent teams who can make life very difficult for you.”

Hopkins said that Matlock went to Nantwich looking for all three points but he could not complain about the one they brought back.

“We wouldn’t have accepted the one before kick off, we went there playing to win. I thought there were two good sides on view, it was a good game to watch, plenty of quality played by fit and athletic players. A draw was about fair. We asked the lads to give us everything, they’ve done that. Even though Nantwich have hit the post and might have scored we’re still happy. Adam Yates had that chance very late on, had that gone in it would have been a brilliant night, but the lads followed our instructions to the letter and we’re very pleased with what we saw.”

The Rushall game is followed by another home clash against Spennymoor Town on Tuesday, and given Matlock’s recent home form, they will be looking for wins in both.

“Again we’re not going to look too far ahead of ourselves, we need to win on Saturday, that’s the main objective at present. If we do then we’ll have had a good week with seven points from nine. Touch wood we’ve not picked up any injuries tonight. Michael Williams came off but that was more tiredness than anything as he’d run himself into the ground on Saturday and Tuesday”.

Niall McManus will be back in contention after university examination commitments ruled him out of the Nantwich trip.

Matlock made just one new signing on transfer deadline day, Goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge, formerly with Grimsby and FC Halifax, and who had a spell on loan at Matlock in December 2013, was brought in as cover for Phil Barnes.

Hopkins and fellow joint boss Glenn Kirkwood praised shkipper Adam Yates who marked his return against Ashton after injury with a magnificent header for Matlock;s third goal.

Yates joined Matlock from Shirebrook Town in March 2009 and has since clocked up over 370 first team appearances.

“He was outstanding again at Nantwich and is actually kicking himself for missing that chance at the end. We should have made him captain from day one when we arrived, that was a mistake on our part, but hopefully he’ll be captain here for a very long time. Not only is he a 100 per center, but he has real quality as seen by his great goal last Saturday and the way he plays in general, he’s been brilliant for us and long may it continue” said Kirkwood.

IAN RICHARDSON

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