Joint Matlock bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood will be looking for a more consistent performance from their side who take on the club they first managed at first team level, Heanor Town, at home in the FA Cup on Saturday.

It has been a mixed start to the season with one win, three draws and two defeats with Matlock looking good in some parts of matches but making mistakes in others.

The trip to Warrington lat Saturday was a prime example where Matlock stormed into a two goal lead, carrying on from the last half hour against Sutton Coldfield Town, playing their best football of the season. But then defensive mistakes came into play and the Gladiators finished the match on the wrong end of a 5-3 scoreline.

“For thirty five minutes it’s as well as we’ve played and few teams would have matched us” said Hopkins. “We were superb, moved the ball around quickly and got the ball out to the wings where we were dangerous. But then our game management was lacking, we needed to see the game out until half time at 2-0 and then regroup. But we conceded just before and straight after half time which was criminal and it unhinged us. There were lots of things we could have done better defensively as a unit because we were poor in that department.”

Bank Holiday Monday saw honours finish even in a tame scoreless draw with Ilkeston at the DCJ Group Insurance Arena.

“At least we put the defensive part of it right, we were solid but didn’t create enough. We were too deep but we were also cautious that they had two forwards with electric pace so we had to be a bit cautious. I also think both teams suffered a bit with two games in a short space of time, if you’ve got the players to swap five or six and freshen things up then you’re going to be better off. It was just a pity Joe Doyle- Charles could not take that chance near the end, we’d have been happy with a scruffy 1-0 win in the circumstances.”

Doyle-Charles became Hopkins and Kirkwood’s fourteenth new recruit having joined from Alfreton Town last Friday. The 20 year old midfielder, once with Burton Albion before moving to Ilkeston can also operate as a full back.

“We’ve had our eye on him for a while so we’re really happy to have him signed up as he’ll be a real asset for us. We’re still work in progress and we ask fans to be patient while we put together the side we want, it might take a while but we’ll get there. We’ve seven days notice in on another player and we’re working really hard to add one or two more to the squad” Hopkins added.

Matlock’s record in the FA Cup in recent seasons is poor, having been knocked out at the opening stage in the past two seasons so Midland Football League Heanor represent a potential banana skin for Matlock. Not only will Hopkins and Kirkwood be facing their old club, as will defenders Dwayne Wiley and Nico de Girolamo while the Lions could include striker Nathan Benger, who was at Matlock eight seasons ago and Keenan Layton who had trials with Matlock in the pre season campaign.

“There’ll be some step five sides beat step three clubs and we’ve got to ensure we’re not one of them” said Hopkins. “We’ve got to make sure we prepare properly, treat it like a league game. Heanor have some good players and if you let any team play then you end up in trouble. Kirky and me had some good times there and made a lot of friends but now all our attention is on Matlock and doing well for the club.”

A good crowd is expected for the derby clash with Heanor expected to bring a good following and with it being Non League Day and fans of local Football League clubs being expected to attend with the international break being on.

Should the tie require a replay, it will be on Wednesday night at Heanor.

Midfielder Ted Cribley picked up an ankle injury at Warrington which forced him out against Ilkeston and he will be assessed at training on Thursday night. Good news for Matlock is that Jamie Yates will be available once again after injury and looking ahead, goalkeeper Phil Barnes is a fortnight away from a return while full back Alex Pursehouse should resume training this coming Tuesday.

IAN RICHARDSON

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