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Matlock Town FC News

Top Of The League

Thursday September 9th 2010
Two wins in forty-eight hours placed Matlock Town on top of the league as they embark on their latest FA Cup adventure on Saturday at home to fellow Evo-Stik Premiership side Worksop Town.

Matlock went into Sunday's visit to Stalybridge Celtic to face FC United of Manchester down in eleventh place, but an amazing 5-1 win catapulted them into fourth. The 5-1 victory came thanks to braces from Ross Hannah and substitute Dene Cropper, plus a James Knowles strike.

Then a typically stern challenge from struggling Frickley Athletic at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday night was overcome with a 1-0 win, which sees them top on a goal difference of just plus one from Northwich Victoria, who drew at AFC Halifax. Knowles again bagged the winner .

Injuries notwithstanding, it's been a good couple of days for the Gladiators and manager Mark Atkins says his team deserve to head the table. There was a hint of caution though.

"We approach each game as it comes round and there's a long way to go. The season is only six games old. We set targets between ourselves and at the minute the lads are doing well enough to be top of the league. The lads deserve it, but we must not sit back for we need to pick up a lot more points. Everybody though should be proud of the team, they're giving everything they've got"

The injuries though, with a potentially serious one to goalkeeper Adam Sollitt on Sunday, are biting into Atkins' resources.

"Luckily Soll had just mild concussion. He seems ok now but we didn't think he was ready for Tuesday. He was at the game and we'll just have to see how things go ahead of Saturday. I'd also at this point would like to praise both FC United of Manchester and Stalybridge Celtic who were fantastic in helping to look after Adam at the ground before the ambulance arrived. FC United as a club were very professional. A nurse and a paramedic, both FC United fans, came from the crowd and on to the pitch to help and Stalybridge's medical team were first class also. He also got a great reception from the FC fans which was great to see."

Striker Colin Marrison missed both of this week's games with a leg injury and is likely to be missing for about another fortnight. Mark Haran's shoulder, which he put out and had put back in during the Mickleover defeat on August Bank Holiday Monday, was still sore, but Atkins hopes his Assistant Manager will have recovered in time to face Worksop. Midfielder Kris Bowler was withdrawn against FC United with a hamstring strain and missed the Frickley win, but will probably be fit for the cup tie.

Atkins set up his side to try and combat FC United's attacking threat and admitted the final scoreline was rather flattering.

"We changed our tactics by shoring up the midfield a bit and the players put that into good practice. Playing Kris Bowler just in front of the back four seemed to work for us and the early goal was obviously a boost. The sending off of the United player with half an hour gone changed the game somewhat, but we defended very well and looked solid while we created some good chances as well. Any 5-1 win has to be classed as excellent but a 2-1 or 3-1 win would probably have been a more fair reflection on the game. We deserved the win though.

"Ross Hannah had been wary of himself all week and not happy with his game but we told him just to relax and go out here and play. He scored two great goals and the second was Ross Hannah all over. James Knowles scored with a great finish and you'll not see a better crossfield pass than the one from Danny Wood for James' goal. Dene Cropper got two good headed goals and Steve Warne missed two excellent opportunities.

"Dene Cropper deserves special praise. I'd left him out of the squad completely the week before, but he never moaned, he trained as hard as anyone, got on with things, showing a tremendous desire. His reward was the two goals."

The manager reckoned that the desire shown by his side paved the way for victory over Frickley.

"Games against Frickley are always difficult, they always give 100% and are difficult to play against. But our desire and fitness levels were excellent, particularly as it was our second game in forty eight hours. We played some good football at times but it was our desire which dragged us through and the will to battle is vital in this league."

Worksop arrive at Matlock just outside of the play off places after a 3-0 defeat at North Ferriby on Tuesday night. Atkins says he has done his homework on the Tigers who should include former Matlock winger Jamie Jackson.

"When the draw came out you hope for a lesser team at home. That didn't happen, but to be home is all you can ask for in the circumstances. We've got to be positive and get through this tie. Worksop have been spending money, they've got a good squad, they're a force to be reckoned with and it'll be a tough game, but I've seen Worksop on a couple of occasions so far this season and I believe we're more than capable of getting a result."

If Saturday's tie ends all square, the replay is set for Worksop's temporary home at Cannon Park, Retford, on Wednesday night, with a 7.45 pm kick off.

Meanwhile full back Scott Brough looks to have played his last game for the club after driving away from the ground before the interval following his substitution in the Mickleover defeat.

"I don't want to say too much on this matter but Scott Brough will not be coming back." Atkins insisted. "While ever I'm manager at this club, he'll not play for Matlock Town."

Matlock signed full back Ben Turner on Monday before naming him as a substitute on Tuesday after Turner had impressed in the Gladiators pre season programme.

Club officials were hoping that the new stand and changing rooms would be available for the first time against Worksop but they will now make their bow when Ashton United visit the Reynolds Stadium on September 18.





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