Atkins cautious ahead of cup tie

Danny Holland celebrates against Stamford. Photo by Tina Jenner.
Danny Holland celebrates against Stamford. Photo by Tina Jenner.

Manager Mark Atkins wants his Gladiators to keep their feet firmly on the ground after Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Stamford saw them move into tenth spot and on the fringe of the play-off places.

Matlock have now kept four clean sheets in a row, three in the league and one in the last round of the FA Cup, but the Town chief will be warning his players that in Saturday’s FA Cup clash at Carlton Town, they will be facing dangerous opponents.

He said: “We face a tough game on Saturday, we’ve had them watched twice and they’re a good side. It’s a tough place to go to and we’ve got to show the same desire and determination as we’ve shown in recent matches once again.”

First Division South promotion chasing Carlton are becoming regular cup opposition for the Gladiators. It’s Matlock’s third visit to the Bill Stokeld Stadium in six seasons in the FA Cup while last season the teams met in the Doodson Sport League Cup.

Matlock have won all of the previous competitive games but Carlton showed their mettle with an impressive 1-0 league win at Belper on Tuesday.

It’s been four points from six for Matlock who were held to a disappointing scoreless draw by Frickley Athletic at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday ahead of the Stamford win.

Atkins added: “On Saturday over the 90 minutes we deserved to win but our finishing was poor. We had enough chances but perhaps we were a little lethargic, the spark wasn’t quite there.

“On another day we’d probably have won. Danny Holland’s disallowed goal was a shame, the first goal was the vital one, if we’d got it we might have got two or three.”’

But Holland struck gold on Tuesday bringing glowing praise from Atkins.

“Danny was great. The first one was a great finish from David Haggerty’s pass, an individual effort, and for the second he played his part in a great team goal, knowing just where to be to finish off a fantastic cross from Micky Harcourt,” he said.

“To think that he was far from fully fit speaks volumes in terms of his attitude. He’s got a groin strain but came to me saying he wanted to play knowing that Lewis McMahon (ankle ligaments) would not be fit.

“He gave us a good hour and I think the crowd really appreciated what he’d done.

“Stamford were lively early on and we couldn’t get to grips with them in the first 15 minutes but once we’d established a foothold in the game we passed the ball well and began to dominate.”

McMahon looks likely to be out for at least another fortnight but James Ashmore and Corey Gregory could be included at Carlton following their injuries.

Regarding the clean sheets, Atkins added: “They breed confidence. At the moment we’re solid in midfield and at the back and that’s down also to good passing.

“If you can keep a clean sheet then you’ve got at least a draw but I feel we’ve got the quality to hurt teams going forward.

“We want to beat Carlton not only to keep the run going, but for the financial aspect and the prestige a good FA Cup run can bring a club like Matlock.”

If a replay is required it will take place at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday night.