Matlock Town joint-manager Craig Hopkins has labelled Saturday’s 5-0 pre-season defeat to Worksop Town as ‘unacceptable’.
The Gladiators were well beaten by a side from two levels below them, just a fortnight before the new Evo-Stik Premier Division season gets underway.
And although Hopkins admitted fatigue may have played a part given it was his team’s third game in five days, he refused to offer it up as an excuse for the result.
Speaking before Tuesday’s trip to Heanor Town, Hopkins said: “You shouldn’t be losing to a team from two levels below, let alone in that manner and irrespective of whether it’s a friendly or not.
“Results obviously don’t matter so it’s perhaps good we got that out of the way now rather than when we’re playing for points, but it was a bit alarming because we’d showed no signs of that being likely to happen in the games preceding it.
“We did well against what was a very a strong Mansfield side on the Tuesday in a game that was arranged at quite short notice but one we felt was very worthwhile. Then we beat Staveley the following night and again did well.”
Hopkins says that like most managers, players and indeed fans at this stage of the summer, the new season can’t come soon enough.
He added: “We’ve been back for about six weeks now and you can sometimes see the players might lose a bit of interest here and there and that is perhaps inevitable until you start playing for points again.
“It’s been all about getting the fitness levels up. We haven’t even had time for a training session in the last three weeks given the amount of games we’ve been playing, but we’ll certainly be training hard next Tuesday and Thursday in the gap we have before the opening game at Stourbridge.”
The Gladiators face one more friendly, the visit of Belper Town on Friday night with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Hopkins and his co-manager Glenn Kirkwood are hopeful of being able to put together more or less a first choice side for the match, but may still be hampered by absences forced upon them by both injury and, in the case of two players, babies.
Hopkins said: “Adam Yates got injured against Mansfield so we need to assess that.
“Then we had Jake Green and Joe Doyle both welcome new babies into the world last week so they missed a couple of games and although Jake could well be back for the Belper game, we’re not sure if Joe will be ready yet.
“So it’s tricky but we will get the best side together that we can.”
Further new faces may also arrive to add to the five signings already made by Hopkins and Kirkwood over the summer.
The duo have continued to run the rule over trialists and Hopkins hopes to complete deals this week and beyond.
He said: “I hope to be able to confirm two more ahead of the Belper game but it could also be that we’re recruiting right through to the end of the month and beyond.
“We’re always on the lookout for players that might strengthen the squad whether that’s in September, December or March.
“We’ve got a good squad already but if someone isn’t doing what’s required of them then you have to look around to strengthen.
“Overall though we’re all itching to get the season started and everything is geared towards preparing for the opening game at Stourbridge a week on Sunday.”