It’s been training rather than playing for Matlock Town’s squad as the wet weather put off their visit to Nantwich Town in the Evo-Stik League Premier last Saturday and then Tuesday night’s home meeting with Rushall Olympic.
It might not have been such a bad thing as far as the Gladiators are concerned for it has given them time to work on the deficiencies which have cost them dear recently in time for this weekend’s home clash with Witton Albion.
The last three visiting sides to the DCJ Group Arena have each scored three goals and Albion also hit three against Matlock last November when the sides shared six goals in Cheshire.
Joint bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood would no doubt have been concentrating on improving Matlock’s defensive game in the hastily arranged training sessions held on Saturday and on Tuesday night.
“All ten outfield players have to play their part in helping out Phil Barnes,” said Hopkins. “Eleven people have to defend properly. When we’ve done well in the past we’ve had energy and that energy and spark hasn’t been there all of the time this season. Our teams have been athletic and played at a tempo and we’ve reminded the lads about this.”
Witton currently lie in tenth spot having picked up one more point on their travels than they have gained on home soil. Hopkins admitted to having some thoughts on next season but maintained that the next game is foremost in the management’s thoughts.
“Yes, we’re looking at next season, but the important thing is to get things right at the minute. We’re making enquiries about players with next season in mind when we want to get back to having a young, hungry, athletic team. We’re concentrating on getting a good result against Witton on Saturday. They’re a good side with energy and good players, it’ll be a hard game but we’re looking forward to it. It was a cracking game up there that could have finished 6-6 when both sides looked threatening. The lads have worked hard in training and in all honesty we’re not a million miles off and we’re bursting to get going on Saturday.”
The Gladiators languish down in eighteenth position but with the reorganisation the non-League system taking place in the summer, they are comfortably clear of the one relegation spot this season.
But Hopkins says the league position is a cause for concern: “The league position we’ve been in has been a concern all year and we can’t say we’re better than we are. We have thirty-eight points from thirty-two games because it’s what we’ve deserved and we’ve all got to work hard to improve on that.”
A fresh face is likely to be added to the squad before the weekend. Matlock have one or two injury and illness doubts as players will be assessed again at tonight’s training session.