A free week was just what Matlock Town wanted after a busy opening month of the campaign which has seen them play almost a quarter of their Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division fixtures plus make progress in the FA Cup.
The Gladiators comfortably saw off the stubborn challenge of Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Hucknall Town by a 2-0 margin at the Reynolds Stadium, to give them the bonus of a midweek break, plus a home tie in the next stage, against Blue Square North Hinckley United.
"It'll give the lads the chance to recharge their batteries, one or two looked as if they were feeling the pace in recent games" Atkins explained. "We won't be training until Thursday and then we'll be concentrating on our match at Whitby on Saturday and then the North Ferriby game at home on Wednesday."
Goals from Ben Algar on 52 minutes and leading scorer Ian Holmes with two minutes left secured Matlock's safe passage through what could have been a potential banana skin against Hucknall who have gone amateur as they seek to clear off a tax debt.
And Algar's goal was a bit special, having a touch of the Ryan Giggs about it as he ran from just inside the Hucknall half, beating a series of challeges before firing calmly past James Lindley in the Hucknall goal from the edge of the box. it was a fine individual effort.
"Ben had the opportunity to do that in the first half but crossed" said manager Mark Atkins who is delighted with the former Chesterfield winger's contribution in recent weeks.
"We spoke about it at half time and encouraged him to have a go at them which he did. It was a fantastic goal and we're all really pleased for the lad as he's played very well in recent matches."
Algar was forced to miss the first four matches of the season as he awaited international clearance to come through after his spell in New York during the spring and summer. He has slotted in comfortably at full back and has delivered a series of outstanding crosses and has also defended with purpose.
The cup win could be counted as unspectacular against the Nottinghamshire side.
"It's always more difficult when a team comes for a blatant 0-0 and sits back" Atkins added. "We played well with the ball but probably lacked a little something in the final third. We were always on top and never in any trouble. The first goal made them come out and play a little bit. We were fortunate when they hit the bar, which came from sloppy defending on our part. But all in all we were very comfortable and should have won by more."
That last comment is a pertinent one as Matlock have failed to score more than twice in any competitive game so far this term.
"We've done okay but not scored as many goals as I would have liked" declared the boss. "But losing someone like Ross (Hannah) is bound to have its effect as strikers who score fifty plus goals in a season don't grow on trees, especially within our budget. I feel we've played better football than last season and we've probably had five or six good opportunities in most games. With a bit of luck in one game the goals will go in."
Whitby currently lie in 19th spot with just one league win so far, but Atkins is aware that their Turnbull Ground can be a difficult place to win at, plus he looked back to Matlock's visit to Skelmersdale to take on bottom markers Burscough at the start of this month,
"Whitby always make it tough for you, it's not an easy place to go to" he warned. "They might not have had the best of starts but remember also the match against Burscough when most people expected us to go there and win. We had to come from behind in what was a difficult game before winning. Teams in this division don't lie down and die. I think it's an even more competitive league this season. You really have to be on top of your game to get full points from anywhere."
Matlock will be looking to return to winning ways in league action after victory in the cup, for games against Stafford Rangers, Bradford Park Avenue and Hednesford Town since the win against Burscough, have yielded just two points.
But Matlock lie in ninth spot and wins against Whitby and North Ferriby would not only strengthen their league standing, but put them in good heart to face mid table Hinckley, who Atkins watched go down 2-0 at Boston in midweek, next weekend.
The Gladiators have loaned out a clutch of players to enhance their match fitness, the most noteable being popular midfielder Steve Warne, who is with Belper Town for a month.
The temporary deal was done last Friday in time for Warne to play in the Nailers 2-0 defeat at Sutton Coldfield Town last weekend. Explaining the decision which has surprised a number of fans, Atkins said "Steve's not been in the starting eleven much and when he did start against Burscough, he wasn't really up to speed. He needs a few games and hopefully he'll get those at Belper. From a financial perspective we can't afford to have a contract player sat on the bench a lot. It's just for a month and the idea is that he'll come back raring to go to get his place back in the starting line up."
Nathan Joynes has just had a fortnight at Ossett Town and is currently on holiday. Kris Witcombe is getting valuable game time at Teversal with Ben Hunter doing likewise at Rossington. Simon Sturdy played for Pickering after his recent back injury, but the comlaint has flared up again and he is back on the sidelines.