Joint-boss Glenn Kirkwood reeled off the positives following Matlock’s best showing of their pre-season programme to date, despite a 3-1 home defeat to Chesterfield on Tuesday night.
Danny Wilson’s men may have taken the Autoworld Stoneacre Cup back with them down the A632, but the Gladiators can reflect with some justification that a two-goal margin of defeat was harsh on them.
“The result aside, Hoppo and I are delighted,” said Kirkwood.
“That was our best display so far. There’s lots to feel positive about, especially playing like that in that weather, it was unbelievably hot out there.
“Our fitness levels were brilliant and with 15 minutes to go we got on top and had Chesterfield on the ropes.
“Everyone’s happy and with that tremendous attendance (a mammoth 1,661) it’s been a great night on and off the field for the club.”
Having not scored in their opening two games, which saw a highly credible 0-0 draw with virtually Mansfield Town’s first team squad at Rossington last Wednesday and a 2-0 home defeat to full-time National League North Nuneaton Town just 40 hours later, Matlock at last found the onion bag thanks to a fabulous Ted Cribley strike against Chesterfield.
Matlock’s lack of goals does not concern Kirkwood who added: “Just look at who we’ve played.
“To play Mansfield’s first team in our first match was difficult and then we played against a very good full-time non-league side on Friday when it looked as though Wednesday had taken it out of us.
“We looked a lot fresher against Chesterfield, there was more hunger and desire to get the ball back and play when we got it.
“Ted’s got a cracking goal, he’s got that knack of unlocking defences. Jake Green and Marc Newsham are two top players, they’ve not had a lot to feed off so far but once they get firing they’ll be fine.
“If we hadn’t scored we’d have still been happy with the way we played but it was nice to break our duck.”
A bullish Kirkwood is also confident that Matlock fans will see better things from their team.
He said: “We’ll improve all round. That was Phil Barnes’ first match in six months against Chesterfield and Nico de Girolamo, Adam Yates and Dwayne Wiley were outstanding as a unit considering that’s the first time we’ve used them like that with two wing backs.
“Hoppo and I have been speaking about a 3-5-2 formation a lot, we’ve three really good centre-halves and it worked really well.
“We could have changed them towards the end and the game could have gone the other way but we had the bull by the horns and at 2-1 down with ten minutes to go we wanted to go on and win it, so we couldn’t change it.”
Two more home matches follow for Matlock in the coming week. This weekend they host Burton Albion in their first home Saturday pre-season friendly for nearly 40 years, kick-off 2pm, before FC Halifax Town, managed by former Matlock skipper Billy Heath and with ex-Town midfielder Liam King in their ranks, are the visitors on Tuesday night (7.30 pm).
Admission prices for the clash with the Shaymen have been cut to £7 for adults and £4 concessions.