Matlock Town climbed into mid table tranquillity of 13th spot when a busy February, which sees them play six more league matches, began with Tuesday night’s 3-1 home win over Grantham Town.

This came hot on the heels of Saturday’s extraordinary 4-4 draw at high flying Ashton United when Matlock found themselves two nil up at the interval only for a dramatic turnaround to unfold which saw them 4-2 behind midway through the second half. But the rollercoaster ride was complete when substitute and leading scorer Joel Purkiss scored twice to earn the Gladiators their point.

Referring first to the Ashton trip, Hume admitted it was a strange game to assess.

“The game plan was working at half time but then we had a mad ten or twelve minutes when we lost our way and it’s all about the lads managing the game right” Hume explained as he went on to credit his assistant Scott Maxfield for engineering the recovery.

Purkiss and Ben Algar replaced Danny Holland and Tom Burgin, the newly signed central defender playing through bad cold symptoms before having to come off.

“It was Scott who saw that the double change was needed, he put it to me and I said we’d go with it, so full credit to him. That’s why we work together and trust each others’ judgement, if we hadn’t Ashton would probably have got five or six. The changes stretched it out and gave us more pace. Not many teams will go and score four at Ashton, everybody says we need that goalscorer but we’ve hit seven goals in two matches.It’s not a problem at the moment for we’ve got good options on the bench. I’m more concerned that we start keeping a few more clean sheets.”

Hume admitted he had to give his side “a bit of a roasting” at half time in the Grantham win.

“We dominated early on, got a great goal from Laurie’s free kick but they scored a cracker almost straightaway which probably left some of the lads thinking here we go again, but the change and some strong words improved us, We went 4-4-2, brought Tom on although he wasn’t 100% to help negate Ben Saunders and pushed Laurie Wilson into midfield. We got back on top again and scored two plus what pleased me, we saw the game out well.”

Laurie Wilson and Nicky Travis were both outstanding in midweek, Wilson donning the captain’s armband in the absence of both Holland and Ted Cribley from the starting line up.

“Laurie’s a good leader, he leads by example by doing the right things and doesn’t have to shout and scream to get his point across. His free kicks and corners have been top quality. On Tuesday we saw Trav can play wide right as well as anywhere across the midfield, he just has to be careful discipline wise but he has tremendous vision and creativity” said Hume,

Cribley, having completed his three match ban, will be added to the squad for Saturday’s home derby with Mickleover Sports, managed by former Matlock favourites Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins. That should add extra spice to the contest in which former Matlock loanee Jack Broadhead should feature for Sports while Matlock signed winger Charlie Dawes from Mickleover in December.

The Derby side won 2-0 in the earlier fixture at Station Road and have often proved to be tricky opponents for Matlock over the years. Their current standing of 19th sees them just above the relegation zone, ten points behind Matlock having played two more games.

“It’s a derby so we know that we have to be on our game, we know them and they know us, our aim is to continue our recent good form” said Hume, while Chairman Tom Wright wants the Gladiators recent improved form to be recognised by a good crowd at the Autoworld Arena.

“The side’s playing well and it’ll be an interesting home derby. We want to keep on moving up that table and it would be nice to be cheered on by plenty of Matlock people” Wright added.

On Tuesday, Matlock have a first ever meeting with Darlington 1883, vying for promotion in fourth place, twelve points adrift of leaders Blyth Spartans but with four games in hand. Draws at Ashton, Nantwich and Salford City plus a home FA Trophy win over Blyth show that the Gladiators can compete with the leading clubs.

Jason Paling is temporarily with Stocksbridge Park Steels.

The former Sheffield United youngster who had a loan spell with the Gladiators from Alfreton before joining Matlock permanently is still in Hume’s plans.

“He’s a good lad, he’s gone to Stocksbridge to get some game time, he’s still keen to be involved here and we feel the same” said Hume.

Ian Richardson

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