Two successive 1-0 home wins against Ashton United last Saturday and Rushall Olympic in midweek have catapulted Matlock Town eight places up the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division table.
Having been in an uncomfortable 17th spot seven days ago, the Gladiators now sit just three points from the play off places but manager Mark Hume refuses to get carried away and says Town fans need to keep their feet on the ground.
“People need to remember how strong this league is and take stock of how far we’ve come” Hume said, probably also referring to their great but in the end comfortable escape from relegation last season, plus their efforts so far this term.
“Even last year after that great February we had a dodgy spell before finishing strongly. We had a good run at the start of this season then a not so good run although to be honest I never thought it would last so long. We’ll have another poor run at some stage, but the important thing to do is not to panic. I didn’t, Scott (Maxfield) didn’t and the players didn’t, we kept it in house. It was all doom and gloom a week ago, but people shouldn’t expect too much, let’s keep our feet firmly on the floor.”
What cannot be denied is that Matlock have beaten two strong sides this week, but Hume feels his side made rather hard work of both victories.
“We can’t keep not taking our chances, really both games should have been two or three nil wins, but we failed to find the target more than once and we can’t keep on being forced to have to defend like that” Hume added.
All of Matlock’s four home wins this season have been by the same 1-0 scoreline.
“Defensively we’ve been much better in the two games. The goals against Ashton and Rushall were both well worked but we had a lot of other chances. Not taking them meant that the opposition were still well in the game and it means that there’s extra pressure not to make a mistake at the back.”
Latest recruit Craig Nelthorpe’s international clearance came through in time for him to be on the bench against Rushall. The 28 years old winger, who had a brief spell at Matlock under Mark Atkins’ tenure in 2012, had also been with Gainsborough Trinity and Harrogate Town in Conference North, before having a spell in Melbourne, Australia.
Nelthorpe’s second debut was certainly memorable, starting the match winning move and then heading in his first Gladiators goal within a minute of replacing Danny Holland.
He may be in line for a start at Halesowen on Saturday as Ted Cribley and Liam Gaughan were both forced off with knee injuries towards the end of the Rushall win.
Then Matlock head to second placed Nantwich on Tuesday.
“Two tough games” Hume agreed, “but I’m not bothered who we face with the way we’re playing at present. Bolstering the squad has certainly helped us. Nicky Travis had a slight knock so having missed three games with his ban we didn’t risk him on Tuesday. Sam Smith’s come in and has helped out Danny Holland up front so that we don’t have to slog Danny to death, it’s not a worry taking him off anymore. I’m still looking for another defender, not necessarily a centre half but someone who can slot in anywhere across the back like Micky Harcourt has done very well, and another striker. But those lads who are not in at present just need to be patient, it’s a waiting game for them and looking how well the defence has played in the last two games, I can’t really change things there.”
Matlock will host Gresley in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy on October 31 after the Moatmen beat fellow Division One South side Romulus 2-1 in a home replay on Tuesday to set up a repeat of last season’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Final.