Joint boss Glenn Kirkwood remains upbeat about the rest of the season for Matlock Town despite an inconsistent opening that sees them lie in seventeenth spot and out of both the FA Cup and FA Trophy at the opening stage.
After being unbeaten in four matches when the campaign got under way, the Gladiators have struggled to put together an unbeaten run of any consequence.
So they will go into this weekend’s home clash with Nantwich Town no doubt with steely determination to collect the points which they hope will lead to better things.
Nantwich, like Matlock, have underperformed in the league so far, surprisingly finding themselves in second bottom spot, eight points behind Matlock, but with four games in hand, But the Dabbers found success in the FA Cup before they were beaten 5-0 at Stevenage last weekend.
“It’ll be nice to be back home again” said Kirkwood who admits that the week and a half’s break following their defeat at Ashton United came at an opportune time.
“If we’d have had a game last Saturday we’d have been down to the bare bones so the break has definitely helped us” he admitted as he revealed a good number of his squad carrying injuries look like being fit to face Nantwich.
“Adam Yates and Ted Cribley have both trained on Tuesday and we’re very hopeful that both Micky Harcourt and Shaun Harrad will be okay for the weekend. Shaun is due to have an MRI scan but his injury isn’t as bad as we first feared which is great news for he’s a very important player for us. He’s played through the pain barrier during the past few weeks and he’s been brilliant.”
Young defender Max Hunt has returned to the Gladiators following a three months loan spell at Belper which Kirkwood believes has been beneficial for both Hunt and Matlock.
“He looks unbelievable and the three months he’s had at Belper playing at a decent level has done him the world of good.”
So Matlock should have virtually a full strength squad available to face Nantwich, including striker Tyrell Waite who missed the last game through family commitments but midfielder Joe Doyle-Charles is suspended after collecting a fifth caution of the season at Ashton, and Luis Rose remains sidelined through illness. The Gladiators could also have a new signing in place for the weekend.
Kirkwood warned that Nantwich will provide stern opposition despite their lowly league position.
“They’re a good side despite losing a number of players to Altrincham, poor sides don’t make it through to the FA Cup First Round, they’ve recruited well and we’ll face a tough match against a side who I reckon will be top eight come the end of the season”.
The last few weeks have most probably been the most challenging for Kirkwood and fellow joint boss Craig Hopkins since they came back to Matlock eighteen months ago.
“I don’t think luck has been on our side in recent games but you just have to take it on the chin and get on with things” Kirkwood insisted.
“We deserved a replay at the very least at Glossop while at Ashton we played well for good periods but gifted them two goals and ended up chasing it. We need to put on a show like we did against Stafford the other week. We’re usually stronger at home and we’ll be doing all we can to put on another show. At times like this we need everyone pulling in the same direction, our crowd can be our twelfth man. We know it’s a two way thing and that they’ll respond if we entertain them but we really need everyone behind us, there’s still twenty seven games to go. What’s gone has gone, it is what it is but we’ll battle through as always. Hoppo and me and the staff are all positive people, the glass is half full rather than half empty. We know we’re not a million miles away, we’ll just carry on working to get things right.”
Derbyshire Senior Cup holders Matlock face probably the most difficult tie they could have asked for in their defence of the trophy, being drawn away to National League North neighbours Alfreton Town in the 3rd Round on Tuesday December 5. Matlock beat Alfreton in a dramatic semi final last season which went to a penalty shoot out.