Matlock boss Mark Atkins has challenged his depleted side to win their final six matches of the season.

Atkins had just watched his side concede a late equalizer to play off chasing Blyth Spartans at the Autoworld Arena on Tuesday, this coming after then league leaders FC United of Manchester had overturned a half time deficit to squeeze out Matlock with a 2-1 victory, their eleventh league success on the spin, at Gigg Lane last weekend.

“I’m disappointed we’ve not picked up more points from those two games” Atkins reflected as the last two results stretched Matlock’s winless run to six games.

“On Saturday we had FC United on the rack at half time, we’d put them under pressure and scored a great goal. But a lack of concentration cost us, particularly with their first goal. The referee’s missed a foul on Adam Yates for the second but we’re at fault for not picking up their man at the back post. Had we concentrated more we’d definitely have got a point, possibly all three.”

Then against Blyth Matlock failed to make hay when they were on top.

“We bossed it” said Atkins. “Blyth were happy just to sit in and try and get something on the break. We should have been two or three up at half time but things just didn’t go for us. Young Jack Broadhead’s headed virtually everything, then didn’t for their goal, but I’m very pleased with the lads’ attitude and commitment which has been first class.”

Injuries and suspension are playing their part with key defenders David Haggerty and Micky Harcourt plus second top scorer Daryll Thomas out through injury while Leading marksman Danny Holland began a four game ban in midweek.

“We’ve got four big players out” Atkins continued. “But we were still able to compete and be a better team against Blyth who have high hopes of the play offs and that’s fantastic. Tremendous credit is due to the players and it shows we have a good squad of players here.”

Matlock now look forward to a hosting Witton Albion at the Autoworld Arena on Saturday before traveling to Buxton on Wednesday night.

“Witton are fighting for their lives but have good players and we’ll need to be on our toes while Buxton’s a local derby we want to do well in” said Atkins. “The last two or three games have shown we’re not prepared to let the season die on us and now lets go on and try and win our last six games and see where that takes us” Atkins added.

Striker Massiah McDonald is expected to make a second debut for Matlock against Witton after his deadline day move from King’s Lynn Town. He was one of three additions to the Gladiators squad, the others being on loan defender Broadhead from Chesterfield and full back Jordan Jones, once of Notts County and recently released by Mansfield Town.

Admission to the match at the Silverlands is free to all supporters after the Boxing Day game was abandoned through floodlight failure at the interval with the score at 1-1 .

Ian Richardson

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