The league table looks a good deal better for Matlock Town now they have ended their seven match losing streak and from results elsewhere.

They were just two minutes away from halting their run of defeats last Saturday but play off chasing Workington netted a scruffy winner to deny Mark Hume’s men a hard earned and well deserved point. Significantly though results involving nearly all of the other strugglers went their way and this continued into Monday when Hyde United, Stamford and Whitby Town were all beaten, and then Tuesday when Marine and Mickleover Sports could not be separated in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Tension was high at the Autoworld Arena as Matlock’s 2-0 victory against bottom club Ramsbottom was the icing on the cake on a good couple of days for the Gladiators. That result confirmed Rammie’s relegation to First Division North.

Like the crowd, manager Hume thought Matlock were unlucky not to gain a point against Workington But against Ramsbottom, it appeared that the only thing he was pleased about was the victory.

“We deserved a draw against Workington for the way we battled and it was soul destroying when they got the winner which was a typical goal for us to concede lately. But I have to say that there’s only been the Workington game and the one at Blyth when we can say we’ve been unlucky in the losing run, in the rest of the games we’ve deserved nothing, there can be no excuses for the way we played in those other games.”

Goals in the 9th and 10th minutes from Niall McManus and Danny Holland accounted for Ramsbottom but Hume was a picture of frustration both during and after the welcome victory.

“I don’t think the win was as massive as some we got last year, it’s a shame we find ourselves in this position and after the great start the players found it hard and didn’t play well at all. Really it should have been five or six, chance after chance goes begging and we just can’t keep on missing these types of opportunities. Our decision making was poor and I just don’t know what the players were thinking of at times. We needed that third goal, 2-0 can be a horrible lead and the lads at the back probably had to defend a bit more than they should have done. We got the result, that’s the big positive but those chances, we need to take them.”

Matlock are not yet completely out of the woods. They have some formidable opponents in leaders Blyth Spartans and high riding Stourbridge in their remaining two home matches while in their away fixture list there is a testing midweek visit to Workington for their furthest trip of the season on Tuesday April 19.

But with Colwyn Bay almost certainly facing a second successive relegation, that leaves two more relegation slots. The 17th placed Gladiators are nine points ahead of fourth bottom Stamford with two games in hand, ten in front of third bottom Whitby Town having played the same number of matches, while Hyde United and Mickleover trail Town by seven and three points respectively and have only four matches left.

A win at mid table Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday on the artifical surface could virtually confirm safety for the Gladiators before Tuesday’s home clash with Stourbridge.

“The lads are used to an artificial surface for they train on one, they’re a lot better than they used to be but I’m a traditionalist and believe we should all play on grass. But we have to get on with it and look to get a good result down there. Stourbridge are a really good side so we’ll have to be at our very best against them. We have a little bit of a cushion but I’m really disappointed where we are, even if we went on a crazy run of victories until the end of the season, I’d still feel the same for I feel we’ve under achieved. The one thing this run has done is show me what we really need to be competitive and we’re working hard towards that for next season.”

Micky Harcourt made his 200th appearance for Matlock on Tuesday and drew praise from Hume.

“He’s really consistent and very rarely lets you down, steady and always gives 100 per cent and other players need to be looking closely at that”.

Matlock have one or two knocks ahead of Saturday including Laurie Wilson and Tom Burgin while Danny Holland came off on Tuesday after feeling unwell, but both Craig Nelthorpe and Ted Cribley could earn recalls to the starting line up after work commitments prevented their inclusion in midweek.

Hume also praised the club’s Academy set up who returned home from the Blackpool Cup over Easter as winners of both the under 17’s and under 19’s tournaments. In fact, their under 18’s faced their under 19’s in the under 19’s final.

“They’ve done really well and should be very proud, it’s nice to see they’ve come back as champions and Jamie Yates, Steve Heath and everyone behind the scenes deserves great credit, it;s a fine achievement.”

Ian Richardson

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