Boss Dave Hoole says he is encouraged by pre season wins over Gresley and Chesterfield this week which have made him think his Matlock Town side are on the right lines ahead of the new NPL season which gets under way at home to Lancaster City on August 18.
A 3-0 win at Gresley on Saturday was followed by a thrilling 4-2 success against a youthful Chesterfield which attracted a bumper 1333 crowd to the Proctor Cars Stadium on Monday night.
“Things are starting to come together a bit. Without getting too excited there’s been glimpses of how we want to play and what we want to do. I was particularly pleased with what we did against Chesterfield.”
Jamie Jackson, Billy Whitehead (His first senior goal) and Michael Williams were on a target on a parched Gresley pitch before Jordan Chappell, Jackson, Kieren Watson and Williams scored against the Spireites.
“The pitch was a great leveller at Gresley, it was a workout for the boys but that’s about as much as I could get out of it” Hoole added.
“It goes to show how hard our volunteers work at Matlock, our lush pitch is 200% better.”
Hoole enthused about Matlock’s start against Chesterfield, despite falling behind to a Jake Philips own goal.
“We started off really well which is important, Their goal came against the run of the play and was one of those unfortunate ones you can do little about if you’re in Jake’s shoes. But we kept on knocking the ball about and we got what we deserved. We worked hard and passed the ball well on a good pitch so I’m very happy with the performance and the result.”
Jamie Jackson, on the fringes of the first team last season, seems to be making a concerted effort for inclusion from the start this term.
“I’ve known Jamie for a while and he’s revitalised this season. We’ve got him playing football, his confidence is up and his hard work is paying off” said Hoole.
More good news for the Gladiators comes from Jake Green signing on again, former Chesterfield winger Adam Smith becoming Hoole’s eighth new recruit of the summer and Michael Williams scoring in each of his two substitute appearances this week.
“Jake had a few things to sort out at home and we’re delighted he’s back with us. He’s got a slight thigh strain at present, nothing serious, so he’ll be back playing soon. Adam Smith’s a great signing, he’s loving what we’re doing here. He’s about a week away from being fit after an operation. As for the others, we’ll be talking with them shortly.”
Hoole, like Town officials, was delighted with the 1333 crowd on Monday.
“That’s fantastic support from both Chesterfield and Matlock fans, hopefully both clubs will do well, both sets of fans deserve that.”
The Gladiators now face Evo-Stik NPL First Division East opponents in their final two warm up games. They visit AFC Mansfield on Saturday and Belper Town a week later.
“We’ve proved we can mix it with the pro clubs, now it’s a mentality thing. It doesn’t matter who you play against, you have to perform. The bar’s been set and there’s competition for places throughout the squad.”