Boss Mark Atkins admits that the Gladiators are “short on bodies” after two departures this week came on top of the two longstanding injury absentees Lewis McMahon and Gareth Davies.
Phil Roe left to join Worksop Town while winger Ben Hunter’s return to Matlock from North Ferriby United has ended prematurely without him kicking a ball due to work commitments.
Davies is still probably a fortnight away from a return while McMahon looks like being out for longer although a target date has not yet been set.
Atkins was unhappy about how Roe’s move was conducted.
“We received seven days notice of approach a week last Monday from Worksop but that night news of this was leaked through Twitter from the Worksop end” Atkins explained. “It’s very disappointing that this got out for these things normally are kept under wraps. All of our players and Phil himself knew straightaway before I had the opportunity to speak to him about it.”
Atkins revealed that the Gladiators pulled out all the stops to keep the former Sheffield United left back who came to Matlock in the summer after his release from Port Vale. Roe has seemed to improve with every game and was well thought of at the club.
“We did our best to keep him but we were unable to match the money Worksop have and the wages they were offering him in spite of us offering him an improved deal. But he came back to us and said he couldn’t turn down what Worksop’s offer. He goes with our best wishes, he’s been great for us and we’re very sad to lose him.”
Hunter’s departure is more straightforward.
“He’s got a lot on at work which has come on quite rapidly to stop him being involved as he and we would have liked” said Atkins.
The Town chief expects to have a replacement for Roe in time for the trip to basement club Eastwood Town on Saturday, but thinks that will be the only addition to the Matlock ranks.
“Although it all leaves us rather short on bodies we also have to look at the budget for crowds currently aren’t as good as we originally budgetted for. The club is the most important factor in all this, so I think we’ll be going with what we’ve got. It’s a tough situation. I’m a football manager who wants to field his best team to get the best results but no-one wants to take the club into debt. There’s players I’d love to bring in but can’t, I understand that and I feel we’ve got enough to win games.”
Matlock surprisingly lost the corresponding home game in the league against Eastwood in October when former Gladiator TJ Nightingale struck the only goal. Nightingale, no longer with the Badgers was also on target when Matlock came from behind to win the FA Trophy clash 2-1 at Coronation Park two weeks earlier.
Returning to face his old club will be Anthony Griffiths-Junior who played in both those games and earned praise from Atkins as he deputised for top scorer McMahon in last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Ashton United.
“He was unable to train as much with us when the snow was down so he was a bit behind on his fitness but it was great to get him involved for a good hour or so. We took him off as we didn’t want a slight strain to develop into a pull but he held the ball up well showed good pace and was tidy on the ball in his preferred position so I was very pleased with him.”
Atkins thought a draw was a fair result.
“We were a bit rusty as was Ashton but both goalkeepers had claims for man of the match so there were plenty of chances. It was disappointing not to win after being in front twice but the most disappointing thing was the referee’s performance. The lad who scored their penalty shouldn’t have been on the pitch, the goalkeeper’s kicked out at Joe Leesley in the penalty box and got away with it, so he’s got the big decisions wrong and it’s cost us. Having said that Ashton did enough for the draw” he added.
Looking ahead to Eastwood Atkins concluded “It’s always a tough place to go and I gather they’ve been playing better at home recently, we’ll have to be on our metal and not take them lightly but we have the quality to get the win.”
Matlock face Carlton Town in the 3rd Round of the Doodson Sports League Cup at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday. The winners will travel to Grantham.