Atkins hoping to avoid striking headache

Matlock Town update, by Ian Richardson.

A headache in the striking department looks like being avoided today (Friday) when Matlock boss Mark Atkins should confirm the signing of another forward.

Atkins has had just two out and out strikers available for the past three games after news filtered through of a knee injury to Nathan Joynes.

Joynes was due to see a specialist this week to discover the extent of the damage and that left just Ian Holmes and Tyeisse Nightingale in the Gladiators' striking department.

Atkins refused to name the new player, preferring to wait until the i's had been dotted and the t's crossed on the paperwork, but he is believed to be an established Evo-Stik League attacker.

"I'm hoping we'll have him in the squad for the Chester game this weekend" said Atkins. "Nathan's injury has come at a bad time for us. he's had it for about a month and we kept it quiet, managing it in the best way we could by playing him in short spells and not overdoing things. However he's aggravated it and we're waiting to see what the specialist says about it."

Saturday's trip to the Exacta Stadium promises to be Matlock's toughest of the campaign so far with Chester in second place, unbeaten at home and regularly attracting crowds of 2500. Thankfully there were no new injury proiblems, particularly with the strikers, in Wednesday night's 4-1 home Doodson Sports League Cup victory against Mickleover.

There is one definite absentee though at the weekend as midfielder Kris Bowler is ruled out through suspension, as he serves what most observers believe to be an unjust one game ban for a harsh and some say incorrect red card in the FA Trophy clash at Hednesford a fortnight ago.

Again Atkins' choice of formation will be interesting. The 4-5-1 formation with Holmes as the lone attacker, with the midfield men supporting in numbers, appeared to work well at top of the table Northwich, and more so at Hednesford, with Matlock drawing both games 0-0.

The boss is confident that his Gladiators can return home again with some reward from Chester.

"We showed in tough games at Northwich and Hednesford, both very good sides, that we've got players up for the challenge and I can see no reason why they can't go to Chester and do it again. Playing in front of a big crowd won't faze our players, they'll enjoy the experience and I think they'll do very well."

Matlock are away again on Tuesday as a busy month continues. they travel to a Stafford side who gave them a good game at the Reynolds Stadium in September. In fact, it needed a last gasp James Knowles header to earn Town a point from a 1-1 draw.

It was a similar story last weekend in the home derby with Worksop. Former Gladiator Jamie Jackson had fired the Tigers in front ten minutes into the second half, and it was in the fourth minute of stoppage time that full back Micky Harcour headed in his first Matlock goal.

"I think a draw was right on the day" said Atkins. "You have to be satisfied with a draw when you go into the 90th minute of a game 1-0 down. There were two good sides out there. I was pleased that we kept on going and playing football to the end, we had that desire to keep going. It was a great goal from Micky Harcourt. We encourage the lads to go out there and express themselves and Micky's taken it upon himself to go up there for the corner and he's got on the end of it with a magnificent header."

The point saw Matlock rise one place to sixth and in good heart to take on Mickleover in the Doodson Sports Cup. The tie was effectively over at the interval when Matlock led 3-0 thanks to goals from Ben Algar, Holmes and Nightingale.

"We played very well in the second half but got sloppy in the second, but sometimes it's difficult to keep going like that when you're so much on top. But we did what we wanted to and that was to get through the tie, and we also gave the likes of Kris Witcombe, Ben Hunter and Kris Bowler some game time. We're a bit low on numbers but we've got to be equally mindful that lads cannot play ninety minutes after ninety minutes after ninety minutes. We've got a tough run of fixtures with Hyde next week in the Trophy and it's a matter of looking after the lads to get the best from them."

Matlock skipper James Lukic made his 550th appearance for the Gladiators against Sports.

Where next?

Gingerbreads add Battersby Deeping Rangers striker joins Grantham.
Mullen and Cooke appointed at MDT Pair re-unite as Market Drayton Town management team.

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