Thursday 11th November 2010
by Ian Richardson
Matlock boss Mark Atkins says his side must stop giving cheap goals away after they slipped to their second 2-1 home defeat in four days against Hucknall Town last weekend.
As against Kendal in the FA Trophy, both goals against Hucknall could easily have been avoided and on this occasion, Matlock were also guilty of missing some great chances as Hucknall's awayday hoodoo ended - the Nottinghamshire side having lost their last five matches on the road.
"We should have won," said a frustrated Atkins. "We had enough chances to have won two games and their goalkeeper was man of the match. But we conceded two sloppy goals again, we're letting in goals far too easily and that has got to stop.
"What made things worse was that we talked about that in the dressing room beforehand. For their first goal - you're not always going to win the first header, especially with a striker like Gary Ricketts about, the most important thing is winning the second ball but we never stopped the runner who had a free header.
"We rallied well and scored the equaliser from a good passing move and then to concede again straight from the kick off when they came straight down the middle was nothing short of criminal."
The Gladiators players were a long time emerging from the dressing room after the final whistle.
"You can't let these things go," said Atkins. "We spoke beforehand about being strong at the back and then that happens. Things had got to be said. The players and myself have to be frank and honest with each other. If you switch off in this league, then you'll be punished. We've got to knuckle down and be a lot more wary and switched on and stronger defensively."
Matlock lost Mark Haran with a potentially serious knee injury early in the game and ,with that in mind, he hopes to have another defender on board in time for Saturday's trip to Bradford Park Avenue.
There was a new face signed on in time for the Hucknall fixture as striker Lee Morris, formerly with Buxton and Frickley Athletic, joined up on Friday after Colin Marrison had his contract cancelled by mutual consent. Marrison has since signed for Stocksbridge Park Steels.
"I've known Lee a long time having been with him at both Harrogate and Stalybridge" Atkins reflected. "He's a proven scorer who knows the game. I felt we just needed more firepower. I spoke with Colin after the Kendal game. The management team had discussed the matter at length and we also had the budget to think of. Colin was one of our higher paid players and we simply could not afford to have him not playing. But he's never really got going for us, with his suspension doing him no favours. So we decided to let him go and bring someone else in - Lee Morris."
Atkins believes that despite two league defeats on the trot, Matlock are still handily placed in the league.
"It's not all doom and gloom," he insisted. "Every game we've played in the league this year, we've had a chance of winning. Looking at the games we've lost at home, we had enough chances to have beaten both Mickleover and Hucknall, while against Chasetown we fully deserved to win but for the refereeing decisions. We've got a good squad of players on paper, it's a matter of proving that consistently on the field."
As well as Haran, Matlock still have Danny Wood and Kris Bowler on the injured list. Wood's knee injury looks like keeping him out for another couple of weeks while Bowler, who also has a knee injury, has not improved and may need to seek further medical advice.
With Haran being taken off on Saturday, Adam Yates was forced into the centre to deputise and this blunted Matlock's attacking options as Yates likes to bomb down the wing to add another dimension to the attack.
"We to play in a certain way and the full backs are important for us. Losing Adam from the flank didn't help us but we still created enough to have won the game" Atkins suggested.
The home defeat spoilt the celebrations of James Lukic's 500th appearance for Matlock. Chairman Tom Wright presented Lukic with a silver decanter before kick off and The Supporters Club also gave Lukic gifts to mark the day.
Mick Fenoughty on 676 appearances is Matlock's record holder so all things being equal, Lukic could beat that total.
Atkins believes that Saturday's trip to Bradford, and Tuesday night's home game with top of the table AFC Halifax are games that his side will relish.
"Both started the campaign as title favourites. Bradford's always a tough place to go. They've not done as well as a lot of people thought they would but they've got a new manager in so the players will be keen to do well.
"Halifax have started very, very well but these two games are good games for us. It's more down to what we do. We need to get our house in order by returning to the way we were defending early on in the season by getting back to basics."
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RARING TO GO -
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