The tough matches are coming thick and fast for Matlock Town at present and boss Mark Hume wants his players to stand up and be counted starting with this Saturday’s attractive home meeting with high flying Darlington FC.

The Quakers, who will be making a first ever visit to the Autoworld Arena, could go top by winning their four games in hand over leaders Blyth Spartans, the points difference between the third in the table Darlington and Blyth being ten points. Strangely Matlock travel to Blyth next weekend to complete a trio of difficult fixtures which began at play off chasing Stourbridge on Monday night when they were beaten 4-1.

Hume was critical of some elements of the Gladiators performance, adding that Stourbridge are a side that his Matlock outfit must try and emulate.

“You look at Stourbridge and they have some fantastic Evo-Stik players used to playing mens football, they’re organised, they defend well and get the ball forward to their front men basically saying go and win the game for us. Even at four goals up they were shouting at each other and the defenders were giving the right winger a piece of their mind when the right winger gave the ball away cheaply by trying to be too clever.We need that mentality.”

It appears that the players have not heeded Hume’s comments of a week ago as he reiterated his thoughts in assessing the Stourbridge performance.

“It’s the same old things, there’s no excuses and I blame myself sometimes, I’ve shown too much faith in some of them and I actually believe I have more faith in them than they have in themselves. We have some great players and we should be doing better, like I’ve said previously the writing’s on the wall for some of them. I want to finish the season really well but it’s my worst nightmare finishing the season as we are at the moment.”

Even though four first teamers were missing on Monday with Adam Yates and Laurie Wilson both completing two match bans and Ben Algar and Craig Nelthorpe injured, Hume refused to use the absences as an excuse either.

“There was still a good eleven out despite the injuries and suspensions. Okay we missed Adam and Laurie massively and having two unfamiliar full backs didn’t help but you have to buckle down and get on with things. Our two centre backs were really good which sounds ridiculous when you concede four goals but Tom Burgin was immense and we need a few more Micky Harcourts and Tom Burgins, it’s hard for the centre halves when we’re giving the ball away with fancy flicks in midfield.”

Yates and Wilson return to the squad now but out goes Nicky Travis who begins a four match ban after being sent off for the second time this season against Nantwich Town recently. Most of Matlock’s red cards this season were “stupid” according to Hume.

“We haven’t had a decent red card all season and by that I mean a last ditch challenge where you’ re taking one for the team. A lot have been for petulance, kicking out and that’s poor, they need to act like men and not boys” rapped Hume.

The Matlock boss maintains that the clash with Darlington is a marvellous opportunity for his players to impress both him and the Gladiators fans.

“They’ve let me, the club and the fans down recently. If you go 1-0 down you mustn’t fold and it’s not been good enough, there’s no hiding away from it. Good sides don’t fold and we need some stronger characters who are hungry and can handle the physical pressure. If you’re not lifted by playing a side like Darlington on your own ground in front of a good crowd then there’s something wrong, What a game to play in, I wish I could still play in a game like that, I’d be chomping at the bit!”

Ian Richardson

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