Atkins reads the riot act

Jason Stokes scores against Barwell. Photo by Eric Gregory.
Jason Stokes scores against Barwell. Photo by Eric Gregory.

The saying that ‘you’re only as good as your last game’ rang true when the final whistle sounded for Matlock Town at Frickley Athletic on Tuesday night.

The Gladiators had slipped to a 1-0 defeat in an awful game, which was a direct contrast to their performance when they strolled to their first victory of the season by a 3-1 margin against Barwell at the Autoworld Arena on Friday night.

Now it looks as if manager Mark Atkins has seen enough from some of his inconsistent players as the Gladiators prepare for a testing three games in just over a week.

The next two Saturdays see surprise package Ilkeston FC visit the Autoworld Arena. Now a full-time outfit sitting in fourth spot and fresh from smashing apart Stamford’s 100 per cent start on Tuesday with a 4-0 win, they will first visit in the league and then in the FA Cup.

In between Matlock travel to Stalybridge to take on FC United of Manchester on Tuesday.

A frustrated Atkins said after the Frickley game: “Hopefully we’ll have at least two new players coming in, and even a third if we can get him.

“What we’ve seen tonight is simply not good enough.”

It was a good hour before Atkins and his team emerged from the changing room after what he described as “a full and frank exchange of views.”

“We’ve had a long chat because make no mistake this was a very disappointing performance and result.

“I’m not going into details of that because what’s said in the changing rooms stays in the changing rooms.

“We now focus on Ilkeston on Saturday and know we face a tough game against a very good young side.

“I watched them on Saturday against Curzon Ashton and they did very well, so now I’m going to see what people are made of and naturally I want a positive response.”

Atkins labelled the last two displays as different as “black is from white.”

“On Friday we played some great stuff and we hoped that would carry on into Frickley on Tuesday.

“But we didn’t start well and our crossing, which was so good against Barwell when we scored two lovely goals from great crosses, was then poor at Frickley.

“It’s a shame because another win would have given us a great platform to build on, but we got what we deserved, absolutely nothing.

“Frickley wanted it more and were prepared to put their heads and bodies on the line to get the win.”

Being down to ten men should not have made any difference when Frickley scored the decider either was Atkins view.

“It was a bad goal to let in from a flick on and their lad running in behind which I’d told them about - even with a man fewer those gaps should be filled.

“Really we needed to be better in all areas, but particularly in the two boxes where we were found wanting. If you’re not good in those two areas, then you lose games.

“But that’s gone now and although we now face two tough sides, we’ve had six tough games so far so it’ll be no different. The principle’s the same - we need to improve but the Ilkeston and FC United games will be played in good atmospheres.”