It’s been more of the same as far as Matlock Town fans are concerned, and the ingredients have been far from appetising.

The Gladiators continue to leak goals, play off chasing Warrington Town being the third visiting side in eight days to net three goals at the DCJ Group Arena on Tuesday night.

Lancaster City had followed Hednesford Town by scoring three last Saturday but Matlock managed to hit four against the Dolly Blues to win a seven goal thriller. The Hednesford and Warrington matches had both ended in 3-1 defeats.

It’s a headache that needs to be cured quickly . Thirteen league and cup games have passed since the Gladiators last kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 home victory against struggling Halesowen Town on November 25. Twenty eight goals have been conceded in that period.

Speaking after the Warrington defeat, joint boss Glenn Kirkwood again emphasised the need for Matlock to become stronger defensively. Six foot plus centre half Brad-Lee Gascoigne was brought in from National League North Nuneaton Town ahead of the match.

“We’ve got to learn to defend, Warrington are a good side anyway and will finish in the top three but having said that we’re conceding a lot of sloppy goals against everyone.

Defensively it’s obvious we aren’t good enough so it’s back to the drawing board for we’re letting in cheap goals too often. We’ve got to be more professional, more organised, and that’s just not the back four but the whole team. As a unit we’ve need to be hard to score against and that’s not happening.”

Kirkwood reckons Gascoigne’s arrival will be good for Matlock, having extensive National League North experience at the likes of Alfreton Town, and Stalybridge Celtic while this season he has made twenty one appearances for Nuneaton, netting four goals.
“Brad was only signed on Monday night and was chucked straight in, you don’t play a lot of games in Conference North if you’re no good. Once he settles in we hope he can bring the stability we need.”

Kirkwood said his side “huffed and puffed” against Warrington after a good performance against Lancaster.

“There was no spark like there was in the Lancaster game. We scored a great goal then conceded two immediately. It’s alright saying what we need to do but we’ve got to do it! The Lancaster game was great for the neutrals, we played really well. We were much the better side in the first half, Lancaster were the better side in the second half. We scored four cracking goals, Lancaster got an extremely lucky first goal and it gave them a lift, we didn’t think it should have stood anyway. It was our throw-in which went the other way before Adam Yates was fouled and then the shot took two big deflections but you have to get on with things. Credit to Lancaster for fighting back and we had to really dig in during the second half.”

The Gladiators’ attacking options appear to be better with the acquisition of twenty seven years old forward Lee Bennett. He was at Shaw Lane earlier this season scoring the Barnsley side’s goal in the televised FA Cup defeat by Mansfield Town before moving to Boston United. He joins Town in a dual signing agreement with the Pilgrims.

Bennett has scored in each of his first two appearances for Matlock and his partnership with top scorer Shaun Harrad looks promising as Harrad netted a brace to take his season’s total to nineteen.

Bringing Lee in gives us a more physical presence in attack, Benno and Hazza did really well on Saturday, both worked very hard. Benno has to get some games in and both looked leggy during the second half on Tuesday, that’s why we took them off. We felt we needed fresh legs and pace up top
but the sending off meant that Warrington basically put ten men behind the ball. We didn’t hurt them, we needed to be more cute and show more guile.”

Matlock will be hoping for a better defensive show at Nantwich Town on Saturday against another side to hit three at the DCJ group Arena, this time without reply back in November.

“We’ll again be working hard in training on Thursday, we’ve already told the lads what we expect of them on Saturday, we want to go there with a positive attitude” Kirkwood added.

Joe Doyle-Charles was a second half substitute in midweek after suspension and Jake Green was also named on the bench after recovering from a groin injury and both could be in contention for a starting place at the Weaver Stadium.

Matlock are at home again on Tuesday with Rushall Olympic being the visitors.

Meanwhile the Warrington game was played after tireless work by the Matlock groundstaff following a prolonged snow shower which left a white carpet on the pitch at 6pm. But less than an hour later, the lines had been swept, and the white had turned to green thanks to a tractor clearing the snow away.

“Dave Reynolds and Dick Lomas did a tremendous job after the snow came at the most inconvenient time it could” said Chairman Tom Wright. “The pitch was in good nick before the snow came thanks to their hard work and when the snow came they just got on with it and it was a brilliant effort.”

Ian Richardson

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