Thursday 25th November 2010
by Ian Richardson
Manager Mark Atkins was pleased and relieved that defensive errors failed to rear up again as Matlock recorded two 3-0 home wins inside a week to end a three match losing run in the league and make progress in the EvoStik Challenge Cup.
Second in the table Colwyn Bay arrived at the Reynolds Stadium unbeaten in league matches away from home, but Matlock wrecked that record thanks to a Ross Hannah double and a late Dene Cropper (pictured left) strike.
Cropper then was forced into an emergency central defender's role against Grantham Town on Tuesday when Hannah again notched a brace and James Knowles scored against one of his former clubs.
Had things again gone wrong against Colwyn Bay then Atkins says he would have been forced to bring in fresh blood.
"It came to a point after the Halifax game on the Tuesday that I said to the players that there would be no more errors or I'd have to change players" Atkins revealed.
"But to their credit the lads took on board what I'd told them and were excellent against Colwyn Bay. Then against Grantham I had to make changes because of injuries and I thought Dene Cropper was terrific at the back and we rarely looked like conceding."
Atkins said it was back to a performance level that he had been accustomed to from his troops against the Welshmen.
"We were more like our old selves. Colwyn Bay had got some very good results, especially away from home. They're a big strong side but we defended well and properly, in fact the defence was magnificent (Matlock still have the division's second best defensive record in spite of their recent spate of errors), especially our two centre halves who held everything together.
"To get three goals and keep a clean sheet is very satisfying. We're always capable of making chances, in recent games we'd not been taking them but now we've got six goals in two games which can't be bad. Saturday's was a game where the points were more important than the performance but in truth it was one of our best performances of the season."
Cropper took star rating for his defensive duties against Grantham and the 6'2" striker revealed that it's a role he has taken on before.
"I really enjoyed it" he admitted. "I've played there before for Boston United and at Lincoln City so really it wasn't that difficult for me to adapt on Tuesday. I was just happy to be playing and helping the club and the gaffer out of a hole."
Skipper James Lukic, along with striker Lee Morris, and midfielders Liam King and Kris Bowler all missed the Grantham clash as Atkins clearly had one eye on Saturday's trip to Marine and next Tuesday's home tussle against North Ferriby United, both in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division.
Their win against Colwyn Bay lifted Town up two places to tenth and again in a good position to reignite their play off challenge. But both Marine and Ferriby are vying for a play off spot having good away wins last weekend. The Humbersiders inflicted a first home defeat of the campaign on top of the table FC Halifax Town while the Mariners did likewise to Hucknall.
"Both will be tough games for they're both very good sides" Atklins warned. "But hopefully Saturday's league win and then the cup win will have done us a power of good. It's a matter of taking one game at a time and we need to continue the good habits of the last two games. Marine's always a difficult place to go and Ferriby are up there again this time after a very good season."
Lukic picked up a thigh strain in the warm up last Saturday but played on, and with the likes of prolific strikers Jamie Rainford and ex Retford and Macclesfield goalscorer Neil Harvey in the Marine ranks plus Gary Bradshaw at North Ferriby, Atkins will be hoping that Lukic is passed fit, even if the likes of Cropper and Co kept a clean sheet on Tuesday.
King was an unused substitute in midweek so he looks to have a good chance of recovering from his groin strain in time. Bowler played for the last few minutes of the Colwyn Bay match before not featuring in the League Cup while Morris sat out on Tuesday with a cracked rib.
Meanwhile Mark Haran (pictured left) visited a specialist last Thursday for a knee examination in which cruciate ligament damage was confirmed. "It looks like he'll be out for a while, definitely until the New Year." said Atkins who had more encouraging news about Danny Wood who is due to resume training last week and could be a surprise inclusion in the squad at Marine.
Atkins had been hoping to bring in a fresh face ahead of last weekend but as the papers were to be signed, word came through that the unnamed player had signed for a full time outfit. Conscious that numbers are low as injuries and suspensions kick in, Atkins has said that he'll keep looking to add to his squad.
Featherstone begins a three match ban on Monday after his red card against FC Halifax Town which will see him miss the Ferriby match plus the visit to Kendal Town and the home meeting with Retford United.
The Gladiators start their defence of the Derbyshire Senior Cup at home to First division South promotion hopefuls Glapwell on Tuesday December 14th.
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MILESTONE APPEARANCE FOR GLADIATORS PLAYER -
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YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN -
They say you can't keep a good man down... Matlock striker Ross Hannah has certainly proved the point this last week. More...
NEW STAND IN ACTION AT MATLOCK -
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MATLOCK GAFFER BLASTS REFEREE -
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WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF? -
Matlock will travel to the Bill Stokeld Stadium hoping history repeats itself this weekend as they take on Evo Stik League first Divison South Carlton Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. More...
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NO EXCUSES -
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MORE TO COME -
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RARING TO GO -
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