It seems to be a step forward then a step backwards for an inconsistent Matlock Town at present.
A 5-0 hammering of Sutton Coldfield Town in the Evo-Stik League Premier last Saturday was followed by a disappointing 2-0 loss at Hednesford Town on Tuesday night, the Gladiators not having secured two successive wins since the opening week of the campaign when they beat both Hednesford and Altrincham at home.
Joint boss Glenn Kirkwood says the hard work must continue to find a solution to a problem which is holding Matlock back: “We need to improve and improve quickly if we are going to do anything this season.
“But it’s a long season and we’ve got to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and go again in the next game.”
He was speaking after the Hednesford defeat when the Gladiators were found wanting in an attacking sense.
“I thought we defended really well, the two goals were a bit unfortunate, the ball dropping kindly for Hednesford on both occasions. But we weren’t very good going forward, we lacked quality and didn’t show anything like the form we’re capable of. For the first twenty to twenty five minutes of the second half, Hednesford worked harder than us, they showed more aggression and that’s very disappointing from our point of view.”
Matlock’s best league win under Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins’ tenure was against Sutton Coldfield, ironically in a game which saw leading marksman Shaun Harrad out with an ankle injury which also kept him out of the Hednesford clash.
“Shaun won’t be far away when we play at Stalybridge on Saturday. It’s an old ankle injury that’s flared up, it’s just seized up a little. He wanted to give it a go at Hednesford but we decided against it, we didn’t want to risk him making it worse again and being out for a longer spell. We played well on Saturday, it was good to get the goals and see other names on the scoresheet. Everyone worked hard and the margin of victory was deserved. We knew they’d been thumped at Grantham in midweek so we wanted to get that first goal and see where that took us. It was also very pleasing and fitting to get the clean sheet on Adam Yates’ 400th appearance. That’s a fantastic achievement and he fully deserved the applause he got at the pre match presentation.”
Yates was presented with a watch by former skipper and defensive partner James Lukic who mase more than 600 Matlock appearances. Conversely two players made their debuts as substitutes against the Royals.
Adam Etches (19) is on a month’s loan from Stockport County and scored Town’s fifth goal. He is an attacking midfielder who can play on either flank or in the number ten role just behind a central striker.
Nathan Whitehead (27) is another attacking midfielder who has been signed from Spalding United after previously appearing for Spalding’s Evo-Stik First Division South rivals Lincoln United.
“Adam was terrific on Saturday, he’s strong and has pace and worked hard for about an hour at Hednesford, so we’re delighted with his start for us. Nathan’s big and strong with an eye for a goal and he’s hungry. We’ve had our eye on him for a few years and nearly brought him in during the summer said Kirkwood.
Meanwhile, Burton Albion loanee Jayden Cotterill has returned to the Pirelli Stadium with Matlock unable to offer him a regular game.
Saturday’s opponents Stalybridge Celtic have had a difficult start to the season after being relegated from National League North at the end of last season. But a home 0-0 draw against fancied Altrincham was followed by a victory on home soil on Tuesday as Whitby Town went home with a 3-1 defeat.
“It’ll be a nice place to go to, but all we’re interested in is getting the win but we’ll have to be on top of our game,” Kirkwood concluded, again pointing to Matlock’s inconsistency so far this term.