Friday 19th November 2010
by Ian Richardson
Without a win in five games stretching over a month, Matlock Town will be desperate to grab maximum points against second placed Colwyn Bay at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday.
Since the home victory against Ossett Town on October 23rd, the Gladiators have suffered three successive 2-1 league defeats against Worksop, Hucknall and lastly league leaders FC Halifax Town on Tuesday, and lost a home FA trophy replay to Kendal Town, also by a 2-1 scoreline, after grabbing a 1-1 draw in the first game.
Matlock are now down in 12th spot, still handily placed for a play off assault given their games in hand, but the pressure is now building to win those spare matches.
Manager Mark Atkins and his assistant Mark Haran are united in saying that defensive errors are holding them back and that the margin between success and failure for their side is a very thin one.
Haran, pictured left, who saw a specialist yesterday (Thursday) to assess the extent of a cruciate ligament injury that could keep him out for some time, believed that Matlock could easily have got some reward from the Halifax game.
"Individual errors are killing us and they've got to stop. Then when we scored we were right back in it, they were rocking and I could only see one winner. But then Fez (Lee Featherstone) gets himself sent off, you can't defend what he did and he knows it, but I also feel we're not quite getting the rub of the green as well."
Atkins was generally pleased with the performance that needed to be strong against the likely future champions.
"Overall I thought we put in an excellent performance" said Atkins. "We showed great determination and we had to in that first half, and then we played some great football and created some very good chances. I felt we did enough to deserve at least a point.
"The one disappointment, apart from the sending off, is that both goals should have been stopped. Adam Sollitt should have come out and claimed the ball for their first goal and Lee Featherstone didn't clear his lines for the second. We've shot ourselves in the foot again.
"It's individual mistakes that have cost us in each of the last five games, there's not a lot you can do about that unless you start changing the players, but we can take heart from the performances of the players and their desire levels against a side who without doubt will win the league, or put it another way, if anyone does finish above them well they'll win it.
"At present, there's a very small margin between winning and losing for us. In the last two home games the goalkeeper's been the opponents man of the match, but it comes back to the fact that the recipe for losing football matches is giving bad goals away. As a unit I feel we can compete with any team".
Matlock's relatively small squad is likely to be stretched in the coming weeks, not only from Haran's probable lengthy lay off, but through knee injuries also to Danny Wood and Kris Bowler, plus a three match ban for Featherstone which will be due to start the week after next.
"I'm hoping we might have Woody and Kris back to play some part against Grantham in the League Cup on Tuesday night" Atkins admitted. "As for Mark Haran, we'll just have to wait to see what the specialist says, but it doesn't look good for him at the moment.
"Lee Featherstone's (pictured left) sending off probably cost us the game on Tuesday. I can't condone it, I don't like it from my team or any other, so there'll be no backing for him for doing that. It does mean that we're short of another body for three games.
"People are playing out of position as it is with Liam King, doing splendidly filling in at full back, and Lee Morris doing well in midfield. We're filling gaps. We'll probably need a few more bodies in but at the right price and they've got to be better than what we already have at the football club."
Atkins was considering signing a defender ahead of last weekend's postponed visit to Bradford Park Avenue when water lying on the Horsfall Stadium pitch led to the match being called off shortly before lunchtime.
"We had a chat and decided against it this time as we felt we had players able to cover and we've also a budget we need to stick to" Atkins revealed. "But it's not out of the question that new faces could arrive but at the right deal for us."
The Gladiators boss remains far from downhearted in spite of the present barren run.
"In my team talk, I told the players we needed to get a good performance from them and we did on Tuesday. It's a matter of giving 100% in every game and I'm sure the results will come.
"If we'd played any other tem than Halifax, we'd have probably won. Colwyn Bay will be a tough game, we want that type of performance again without the errors and we want it in every game. Our desire levels have got to be bang on."
Saturday 20th November - Colwyn Bay (H)
Evo-Stik League Premier Division, K.O. 3.00pm
Tuesday 23rd November - Grantham Town (H)
Evo-Stik League Challenge Cup, K.O. 7.45pm
Saturday 27th November - Marine (A)
Evo-Stik League Premier Division, K.O. 3.00pm
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