The saying that “you’re only as good as your last game” rang true when the final whistle sounded for Matlock Town at Frickley on Tuesday night.

The Gladiators had slipped to a 1-0 defeat at the second from bottom strugglers in an awful game, which was a direct contrast to their performance when the strolled to their first victory of the season by a 3-1 margin against Barwell at the Autoworld Arena on Friday night.

Now it looks as if manager Mark Atkins has seen enough from some of his inconsistent players as the Gladiators prepare for a testing three games in just over a week. The next two Saturdays see surprise package Ilkeston FC, in fourth spot and fresh from smashing apart Stamford’s 100% start on Tuesday with a 4-0 win, visit The Autoworld, first in the league and then in the FA Cup. In between Matlock travel to Stalybridge to take on FC United of Manchester on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we’ll have at least two new players coming in, and even a third if we can get him” a frustrated Matlock boss Mark Atkins revealed after the Frickley game.”What we’ve seen tonight is simply not good enough.”

It was a good hour before Atkins and his team emerged from the changing room after what he described as “a full and frank exchange of views.”

“We’ve had a long chat because make no mistake this was a very disappointing performance and result. I’m not going into details of that because what’s said in the changing rooms stays in the changing rooms. We now focus on Ilkeston on Saturday and know we face a tough game against a very good young side. I watched them on Saturday against Curzon Ashton and they did very well, so now I’m going to see what people are made of and naturally I want a positive response.”

Atkins labelled the last two displays as different as “black is from white.”

“On Friday we played some great stuff and we hoped that would carry on into Frickley on Tuesday. But we didn’t start well and our crossing, which was so good against Barwell when we scored two lovely goals from great crosses, was then poor at Frickley. It’s a shame because another win would have given us a great platform to build on. But we got what we deserved, absolutely nothing. Frickley wanted it more and were prepared to put their heads and bodies on the line to get the win.”

Being down to ten men should not have made any difference when Frickley scored the decider either was Atkins view.

“It was a bad goal to let inform a flick on and their lad running in behind which I’d told them about, even with a man less those gaps should be filled. Really we needed to be better in all areas, but particularly in the two boxes where we were found wanting. If you’re not good in those two areas, then you lose games. But that’s gone now and although we now face two tough sides, we’ve had six tough games so far so it’ll be no different. The principle’s the same, we need to improve but the Ilkeston and FC United games will be played in good atmospheres.”

Physio Caroline Pike told Radford to expect to have a banging headache on Wednesday morning but he is expected to be fit for selection and surprisingly from a tough encounter, there does not appear to be any more serious knocks at this stage.

It’s the designated Non League Day on Saturday and a chance for fans of Premiership and Football League clubs to visit their local non league side for their football entertainment.

That’s because of the international break which sees a lot of the full time clubs not playing with some of their players away on international duty.

Locally in Derbyshire, both Derby County and Chesterfield are not in action so opportunity knocks for their supporters and those of other clubs to watch what should be an entertaining local derby with Ilkeston FC at the Autoworld Arena (3pm).

In line with a host of other non league clubs offering deals to encourage fans to attend, the Gladiators are offering reduced admission to season ticket holders at Football League clubs.

Adults in this category will be charged six pounds and concessions four pounds but fans must show this season’s season ticket at the Autoworld Arena turnstiles.

“It’s a day to celebrate and show how good non league football is” said Gladiators Chairman Tom Wright. “We have a great local game against Ilkeston, a good young side who have started exceptionally well this season, and we believe it’s a game people will enjoy. We want to attract a fresh audience if we can, hope they’re well entertained and will want to come down again, so we look forward to good weather and a good gate on Saturday.”

IAN RICHARDSON

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