Atkins Seeks Tighter Defence

Matlock Town update

At the end of the first week of the new campaign, Matlock Town lie down in 16th spot with just one point from their two opening games, but manager Mark Atkins believes that the points tally should be higher.

He says the reason for the poor return is the concession of poor goals. The opposition have found the Gladiators net on five occasions, and when they bare all assessed, each and every one could have been avoided.

Matlock gave away a penalty in the opening five minutes in the season's opener at Ashton and were then left chasing the game against a well organised unit who defended very well.

Speaking after the 3-0 loss on Tameside Atkins admitted " We didn't get off to the best of starts by conceding the penalty. Ashton are a side who can defend very well and once they're in front they defend even better by getting men behind the ball and denying you any space. It's hard to believe we lost the game 3-0 for we had most of the possession and hit the woodwork twice. Ashton's manager Danny Johnson actually came up to me afterwards, shook my hand and said sorry, which probably explains a lot. We didn't make the most of the possession we had which was disappointing but there were positives to take. Chris Bettney had a tremendous game putting in some quality balls and his desire and workrate was top notch. Having Ian Holmes back was also a boost."

Atkins decided to leave him on the bench at Ashton but named him in the starting line up against Chasetown on Wednesday. Holmes was quickly in the scoring grrove by opening the scoring after only a minute.

"Ian only got back off holiday on the Thursday afternoon and came straight to training. He'd had an hour and a half with us so I didn't feel it was fair to throw him straight in at Ashton, and both Lee Whittington and TJ Nightingale had done very well in previous games."

After Holmes' goal had given Matlock a great start on Wednesday they were soon pegged back by a Chasetown equaliser on 7 minutes, but after surviving a flurry of Chasetown pressure early in the second half, they regained the lead through Nightingale with eighteen minutes left in a great spell of their own. Nightingale had missed two good chances a few minutes earlier. The Gladiators looked comfortable only to concede another penalty as the game entered stoppage time to drop two crucial points.

"We need to stop giving bad goals away" Atkins said. "I felt we did more than enough to win the game and the two goals we let in were very disappointing. From an attacking point of view I was pleased with us. TJ and Ian Holmes did well and are building up an understanding. The fact that they both scored is a bonus. We created some great opportunities in the second half and I felt we kept the ball very well."

So hopes of a first three point haul were dashed at the death, and attention now turns to the visit of Kendal Town on Saturday. The Lake District side lie in eighth spot but have only played one game as their midweek trip to Northwich Victoria was called off by the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League as the Vics had not provided information required relating to their security of tenure at the Victoria Stadium. Kendal won their opener by 3-0 at home to much fancied Worksop Town last weekend.

Simon Sturdy could miss out with a back injury picked up against Chasetown, so Adam Yates is likely to come in after not featuring in midweek due to holiday commitments. Midfielder Kris Bowler is back in contention after completing a two match ban but Ben Algar has been absent so far as the Gladiators are still awaiting confirmation of international clearance after his spell playing in New York.

Young full back Ben Turner has been released and has joined Sheffield FC after Atkins could not guarantee the former Burton Albion player first team football at Matlock.

Meanwhile Matlock's Reynolds Stadium has been the scene of filming for a new comedy drama series called "Starlings" which is to be screened on Sky One next March. The ground was used on Tuesday and club officials, stewards and supporters were present to act as extras in the show.

The Starlings are a typical working class family living in the town featuring Downton Abbey star Brendan Coyle and Lesley Sharp of ITV's crime drama Scott and Bailey.

Where next?

Chester Secure Adult Learning Funding Enables club to run more volunteer programmes

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