Matlock Town boss focusing on league

Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager
Mark Atkins, Matlock Town manager

Matlock’s plum FA Trophy 1st Round Proper derby clash at Mansfield Town on Saturday week needs to be put on the back burner with two tough league games to play beforehand.

Last weekend’s 2-1 win over Blue Square North full timers Stalybridge Celtic put the Gladiators into last Monday’s draw, and when they were plucked out to face the Stags, great memories of their FA Cup 2nd Round giantkilling win at Field Mill when Matlock as NPL leaders, beat old Third Division future champions Mansfield by an astonishing 5-2 margin, came flooding back.

While excitement about the game grips officials fans and players at the Reynolds Stadium, boss Mark Atkins has the job of keeping everyone’s feet on the ground as a visit to Derbyshire rivals Ilkeston FC on Saturday is followed by a visit from title chasing Hednesford Town on Tuesday.

“Mansfield’s an excellent draw and great for everyone as well as bringing some money into the club” said Atkins.

“But in truth I’ve hardly thought about Mansfield yet, that needs to go on the back burner for we have a couple of important league games that have to take priority. I don’t think the players will be thinking too much about Mansfield yet either.

“We need to concentrate on keeping our good recent run going as we’ve played some great stuff and have been scoring goals.”

Atkins was delighted with the result and performance against one of his former clubs, Stalybridge, but he thought Matlock possibly showed their higher league opponents a tad too much respect in the first half.

One down at the interval Matlock rallied brilliantly to equalise through James Lukic who equalled Nick Tilly’s 591 appearances and go second behind Mick Fenoughty (673) in the appearance stakes, and win it through Massiah McDonald just three minutes from the end.

“We rather waited for things to happen in the first half and sat off Stalybridge so at half time I put it to the lads that we needed to go at them and make things happen for ourselves.

“I thought we were excellent in the second half, we showed that extra endeavour and in the end we deserved to go through.”

Atkins did not restrict his praise giving to his team adding that the support from the terraces was “fantastic.”

“The atmosphere in the second half was really good, possibly the best since I’ve been at Matlock.

“All the players commented on it afterwards, the fans really got behind the team and we’d like that to continue. It just shows what can be done when everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

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