Atkins: It’s time we started winning

Football
Football

Draw specialists Matlock Town will be hoping to finally secure the two extra points when they entertain Rushall Olympic in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division on Saturday.

Both of the Gladiators’ last league trips have seen them share the spoils at Bradford Park Avenue, where they held a two goal interval advantage, and last weekend, when Tyeisse Nightingale snatched a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Matlock are proving to be a tough team to beat but as manager Mark Atkins has acknowledge: “It’s high time we started winning some games.”

Having been happy with a draw at high flying Avenue, Atkins was less impressed with his troops against a Steels side currently in the relegation zone.

He said: “We were poor in the first half and Stocksbridge deserved to be in front.

“We went there looking for the three points. I wanted us to push on and really express ourselves, but we never passed the ball well.

“The goalkeeper and the back four were the only ones who gave everything they’ve got, in fact the two centre halves were brilliant throughout the game.

“The other six let everyone down. We were a lot better in the second half without being brilliant.

“We got more balls into their box and troubled them a lot more. In the end a draw was a fair result.”

The football was somewhat overshadowed by an unsavoury end to the contest when Nightingale was kicked in the head by a home player and reacted aggressively.

A mass confrontation followed, and after the commotion had died down, Nightingale was red carded and Steels goalkeeper Ben Scott, who had run 30 yards to get involved, was booked.

Atkins was then sent to the stands, a decision which seemed both puzzling and unjust from the sidelines.

The Town boss has insisted he is innocent and wants to clear his name on two counts.

“The referee told me he was sending me off for being in the melee and throwing bodies about, but anyone who was there knows that never happened.

“I never got involved, I stayed in the dug out. I’ve got witnesses and I want to clear my name.

“There was also a report in a local newspaper and a national one that I’d been sent off for using foul and abusive language. That’s just not true and it’s hurtful to be accused of things by people who are not sure of their facts.”

Atkins does agree however that disciplinary issues are causing problems at present.

Skipper James Lukic misses out against Rushall for collecting five bookings, while Lee Featherstone’s red card for using foul and abusive language at the referee in the 2-1 home defeat by Hednesford on November 30 keeps him out against both the Pics and the home derby with Buxton on Boxing Day.

Nick Buxton was banished to the stand in the FA Trophy draw at Hednesford on November 5 and is banned for the festive fixtures with the Bucks and Mickleover Sports.

Recently both Liam King and GarethDavies were out after collecting five bookings, and Kris Bowler unluckily missed a game after an unlucky second yellow card in that Trophy encounter.

Nightingale will soon have a three game ban and although he is presently injured, new winger Craig Nelthorpe is suspended for offences before his move to Matlock.

Atkins said: “We’ve got problems because the bans seem to be all coming at once.

“Bookings and sendings off for dissent aren’t acceptable, we have a disciplinary code for these offences and players have been fined. They must take full responsibility.”