Atkins reflects on Gladiators’ season

Mark Atkins

Mark Atkins

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Matlock boss Mark Atkins was left with mixed feelings after his side finished the season 12th in the Evo-Stik Premier.

It was an improved campaign on 2012/13 but also promised more in terms of league position and as Atkins agreed, his side had disappointed in the cup competitions.

The 3-0 final day defeat at Marine scuppered any hopes the Gladiators might have had of finishing on a high and improving on their place just in the top half prior to kick-off.

Atkins was left unhappy and frustrated by a below-par showing on Merseyside.

He said: “It was very even at half-time but there was nothing from us in the second-half when not only were we poor defensively, we were poor throughout the side and it wasn’t a good way to end the season.

“I shouldn’t be having to have a go at people at the last game but I felt their performance warranted it. I felt let down, the club was let down and those people who travelled up there would certainly feel let down.

“We didn’t play to our strengths which we’d done in a lot of games during the season and had we done so we could have won comfortably. They say though you learn more about people in defeat than when you’ve won.”

The consolation for Matlock is being the highest-placed Derbyshire club in the division, but Atkins feels that it could and should have been a better finish for Matlock.

“I think we were good enough for a top ten finish but it’s certainly been a better season and not to be in fear of relegation at any point was nice,” he added. We improved from 17th to 12th with a much better points tally. You want to try and improve each season.

“I think injuries, particularly to our contract players, plus suspensions held us back somewhat and decreased our outside chance of reaching the play-offs. The problem when contract players get injured is that you still have to pay them, so your ability to go out and replace them is affected with the financial side in mind.”

Atkins was pleased with Matlock’s home form which saw only three sides leave the Autoworld Arena with maximum points.

He said: “The home form’s been great and it’s something we want to maintain next season.

“The major disappointment was our cup results, particularly the Derbyshire Senior Cup defeat in our first game in the competition at Glossop as that’s a competition we target for winning.

“But if we look at the season as a whole, it’s been better, the desire has been there most of the time and we have something to build on for 2014/15.”

Chorley finished as champions after a 2-0 win at Buxton last weekend, an honour Atkins says the Magpies deserved.

He added: “It was a close game when they won at our place early in the season but you could see then the quality they had. I’ve seen them twice more, not including the two games we played up there, and they were strong, organised and knew what they were doing, so they thoroughly deserved to win it for they were the best side in the league.”

Atkins concluded his season’s review by praising retiring physio Micky Cunningham (more on page 47).

“It’s disappointing that he’s ending his time at Matlock but I gather he’s not going completely,” said Atkins.

“He’s been a fantastic servant, he’s supported the club and me brilliantly, he’s a great lad and I thank him for everything he’s done.”

The Gladiators hold their presentation evening in the Autoworld Lounge on Friday. Admission is free and a disco and buffet have been laid on.

C W Sellors Jewellers are sponsoring the Players’ Player of the Year award with the recipient receiving a watch, and as usual the Matlock Mercury are sponsoring the fans’ award.