Two defeats over Easter at home to Skelmersdale and then the Easter Monday derby loss at Buxton stretched Matlock Town’s losing sequence to six matches and left them looking nervously over their shoulders with the real fear of them becoming embroiled in a relegation battle.

Manager Mark Hume feels the pain shared by fans and club officials.

“I’ve never worked so hard in trying to fathom out a solution to this, I’ve tried different systems and personnel, but we’ve continued to make mistakes not only defensively but we’ve missed chances at the other end. It’s just not been good enough, as a player I never lost six matches on the trot. It’s really hard at the moment. some players seem to have lost their way. It’s hard to put into words, no-one’s more devastated than me with how results are going at present but we’ve got to all man up and get on with it. That’s life, that’s football. I’m confident things will turn, we have some tough games but we also have some winnable games.”

Two of those “winnable games” surely come up within the next week as Matlock face bottom side Ramsbottom United twice, firstly tonight (Thursday) in Lancashire followed by the return at the Autoworld Arena on Tuesday night. In between they have a home clash with play-off contenders Workington on Saturday.

“The Ramsbottom matches are massive” Hume admitted. “But I don’t want to put too much pressure on the lads, they’ve put enough on themselves with results recently. We need them to go out there and relax and play their football. It’s bad that we’re talking like this but at the end of the day we haven’t been good enough and the players know this. We wouldn’t have been in this position had we done better in the not so tough games. I’ve said to the players we have to sort this out, I keep on asking them is it something they want on their CV’s? On Monday at Buxton four out of the eleven got pass marks, to be okay you need at least eight to be on their game. No-one expects brilliance every game but when you’re not having a good day you simply knuckle down and do the basics right and shut your opponent out.”

Hume made a point of apologising to Matlock officials for the Buxton result and performance straight after the final whistle and he admits that the Skelmersdale performance was worse when Matlock created precious little with just one shot on target from open play.

“We created nothing against Skelmersdale, at least we were more creative at Buxton but we made individual mistakes and these keep happening despite what we say in training and in the dressing room. For the first goal the ball should have gone in the stand, we then concede another and at 2-0 down you’ve a lot to do. But whatever happens I’ll take all of the criticism and the pressure for as manager the buck stops with me and deep down I think we’ll turn things around. We worked too hard last season to throw it away and I want to be here managing Matlock Town next season and leading us on to better things.”

Matlock badly missed the defensive excellence of Adam Yates over Easter through back spasm problems and he remains 50-50 to play at Ramsbottom. However Tom Burgin should return having missed the Buxton trip through work commitments. Midfielder Nicky Travis could also be back after serving a four game ban but he has a knee ligament problem and has been undergoing treatment from physio Mark Mullins throughout his suspension.

The Gladiators lie in 17th spot. stuck on 44 points from 38 matches, seven points in front of fourth bottom Whitby Town. Although clubs between Matlock and Whitby are worse off points wise and have played more games, the quicker Matlock can halt their losing run and get some points on board, the better.

Ian Richardson

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