Atkins optimistic ahead of kick off

Manager Mark Atkins is hopeful that his “better squad” can bring about an upturn in Matlock Town’s fortunes ahead of the season’s league opener at home to Nantwich Town on Saturday.

A poor away record with just two league wins accounted largely for a disappointing 14th spot finish in 2011/12, but Atkins feels his squad is better equipped this time round.

He said: “I’m confident because we’ve a far better squad with experience in vital areas.

“The way we’ve been playing suits us more, we’ve more power up front as long as we get good opportunities to them. Things may not happen overnight, I hope they do but we’re looking forward to the season.”

A promising pre season was spoilt somewhat with a below par display in a surprise 2-1 loss to Rainworth last weekend, a match Atkins missed.

He said: “I wasn’t happy with the result and after talking to assistant Nick Buxton, it seems that some players let themselves down.

“We wanted another good display, that didn’t happen, it’s one of those things and it’s given other players the chance to stake a claim for Saturday.

“We spoke after the Sheffield United game when we had 65 per cent of the play that in league games possession doesn’t always get you the win, we need to do better in the final third and take our chances.”

But Atkins is generally pleased with the warm up games which ended with a visit from Derby County last night (Wednesday).

“We’ve a good squad of players, the new lads have come in and done well, we needed that fresh blood. But pre season means nothing, it’s now when things count.”

Looking at the season’s first game and the trip to Frickley on Tuesday, Atkins says Matlock face two tough tests.

He said: “Nantwich have signed some good players who know this league. Their manager Jimmy Quinn will have them organised and they will play good football but while we respect our opponents, it’s what we do that matters.

“If we’re on our game we can be a handful for anybody, but we’ve got to turn up. Frickley have had some great results, probably their best ever pre season, winning games by four or five, we know what we’re going to get there, it’s always a tough place to go to.”

Captain James Lukic will sit out both games plus next weekend’s trip to FC United of Manchester through suspension while Ryan Hindley, Laurence Gaughan and Joe Leesley were all carrying knocks in midweek and expected to sit out the Derby friendly.