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Gladiators Are Playing For Their Futures

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Joint Matlock Town boss Craig Hopkins says players are playing for their futures at the DCJ Group Arena following another disappointing result last weekend in the Evo-Stik League Premier when the Gladiators lost 2-0 at home to Barwell in a mid-table `six pointer`.

Matlock have a meagre return of one point from their last four games ahead of the visit to Hopkins and fellow joint boss Glenn Kirkwood’s old club, Mickleover Sports on Saturday.

“The players as well as me and Kirky have to take responsibility for what’s happened, there’ll be no passing the buck. There’ll be a turnover of players imminently and in the close season, so now the lads are playing for their places at the club,” said Hopkins.

Matlock were booed off by a section of the crowd on Saturday and with the Gladiators in the top five in the division for average home attendances, the poor results are all the more frustrating for everyone. 402 were in attendance, with only ten or so visiting spectators.

“It was a brilliant crowd and seeing how many were there surprised us a little” Hopkins admitted.

“We got fantastic support but were poor again although over the ninety minutes we thought we were the better side. Our biggest problem again was being unable to find the net, poor finishing cost us although our general play wasn’t great. It’s a massive problem for us, we can’t butter it up, it’s not just good enough, too many players are underperforming. We’re where we deserve to be after twenty odd games and it’s a reality check for people.”
Matlock seem unable to keep a clean sheet at present, the last occasion being eight league and cup games ago in the 2-0 home win over Halesowen Town on November 25th.

“We gifted Barwell both of their goals to allow them to come and win,” Hopkins moaned. “We fell asleep from a free kick for the first goal and that’s indefensible. The second was a little understandable, for at that late stage of the game and being a goal down, we took a chance by keeping the ball in play instead of booting it into the stand and it worked against us. But in between their goals we’ve got in good positions, but our final pass and centre has been poor, our play in the final third has been far from acceptable.”
Hopkins confirmed what most knowledgeable Gladiators fans know in needing more forward options.

“We were gazumped on a couple of forwards last week when we thought we’d got them. We need to have four forwards in the squad but at the moment we have only two, so we have a lack of attacking options on the bench. We’re hoping to resolve that very quickly for we’ve had to try and get the best out of what we’ve got and to be honest the players we have now need to take a look at themselves.”

Matlock brought in ex Barnsley full back Matty Templeton from Worksop Town on a dual registration basis with the Gladiators having first call on him over the Tigers. Templeton made a debut as a second half substitute against Barwell.

“Matty will benefit from a really good pre-season in the summer because since he left Barnsley it’s been tough for him. He needs to get fitter and then we’ll see what a good player he is.”

Another full-back, Micky Harcourt, will not be in the picture “for the foreseeable future”.

Harcourt returned to the Gladiators following an eighteen-month absence when he was at Toolstation Northern Counties East League outfit Handsworth Parramore. But work commitments, which affected him in his previous spell, have again come into play.

“He’s here, there and everywhere with work at present and feels he can’t give the commitment to playing and training that’s required. It’s a big shame for he’s done well for us,” Hopkins added.

Reinforcements might arrive before the trip to Mickleover,on a ground where Matlock have lost in every competitive fixture they have played against Sports.

“It’ll be tough, they’ve got good players, a good side who have got some great results this season. But we must go there looking to win, the lads looked sharp in training on Tuesday and they must show what they’re capable of”.

Ian Richardson


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