Manager Mark Atkins remained upbeat despite the two dropped points in Tuesday night’s scoreless home draw with Ashton United.

“It was a tough game in hard conditions and I thought we looked a little leggy and not sharp enough on the night. But give Ashton credit, they’re a hard working side, they were sharper, they closed us down effectively and a draw was a fair result. If we could have taken one chance then we’d have probably won.”

The midweek stalemate followed Saturday’s 1-0 home win in the local derby with Ilkeston which came courtesy of Danny Holland’s late winner.

“There’s no question we deserved to win that one” Atkins added. “Once we settled down we made three or four great opportunities and to be honest we did very well to keep Ilkeston quiet. The only chance they created came from our bad back pass, thankfully they didn’t take it.We then dominated and finally got the winner after creating two or three more chances. It was a great finish from Danny, what was pleasing was that he’d missed some chances but didn’t let it phase him which is the sign of a good striker.”

Matlock swapped places with Ilkeston after Saturday’s win to rise to fourth, a position they kept despite Tuesday’s draw.

“I’m pleased with four out of six points, obviously we’d all have preferred the full six but it keeps us on a roll and we need to keep picking the points up. We’re not going to win every game but that’s two clean sheets on the bounce now and we no longer look to be a pushover. To be fourth is a good effort from the lads who deserve great credit. They’ve been at it for most of the season and it’s been a great response from them to what we’re trying to put over to them. We now have the strength to shuffle things around if need be. One or two lads are comfortable in two or three positions, we tried to alter things around towards the end against Ashton by switching to a diamond formation which we’d worked at in training. It was one of those games on Tuesday.”

Attention now turns to Saturday’s first ever meeting with St Neot’s Town in the FA Trophy, but Matlock will have an eye on two difficult league games to follow, at third placed Chorley on Tuesday (FA Trophy results for Town and Chorley permitting) before second in the table AFC Fylde come to the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday week. The Coasters thrashed whipping boys Droylsden 10-0 on Tameside on Tuesday night!

“They’ll be tough games but that’s good for us, I think we’re showing we can challenge near the top of the division. Nobody expected us to be where we are but we’ve done it through hard work and the lads showing the desire to want to compete with the leading sides. But we can’t take anything for granted, the next game is what we’ll be focusing on and that’s an important game with St Neot’s. I’ve had them watched on Tuesday and I’ll be ringing one or two people who’ve played them to get the low-down on them. They play in a strong league and despite their below par start, they’ll come here up for it and wanting to do well.”

Bradley Grayson made his first start in midweek since his return from Swedish football,partnering Danny Holland in attack, and looks set to feature again against the Cambridgeshire side as leading scorer Daryl Thomas has a thigh strain which Atkins believes will keep the former Ilkeston and Belper striker on the sidelines for two more weeks. Lavell White may also miss out with a foot injury.

Ian Richardson

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