Atkins: ‘Still time to stake a claim’

Matlock Town visit Sheffield FC in their final pre-season outing on Saturday with boss Mark Atkins pledging that places are still up for grabs in the side to face Trafford in the season’s curtain raiser on August 16.

Wednesday, 6th August 2014, 2:11 pm
Matlock Town boss Mark Atkins and, below, new signing Niall Dawkins.

Atkins has added several new players to the Gladiators squad over the summer, and with the competition for places looking strong, he admits there is still time for his troops to stake their claims.

“I haven’t decided on the eleven to start at Trafford,” Atkins insisted.

“There’s two or three positions I’m still looking at and players have the chance to stake their claim in the Sheffield game.”

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It should be a competitive end to Matlock’s pre-season programme against the Evo-Stik First Division outfit who appointed former Matlock manager Mick Wadsworth as their new man in charge during the summer.

The Coach and Horses outfit should include former Matlock winger Ben Algar in their line-up.

Atkins was disappointed that Staveley MW grabbed a late equaliser in last Friday’s match at Inkersall Road (see page 35), particularly as the Gladiators had once again created enough chances to have won comfortably.

As it was, Danny Holland’s penalty put Town in front just before the hour, but Staveley captain Jordan Eagers pulled the hosts level five minutes from time.

Atkins said: “We controlled the first-half like we were expected to. We passed the ball well but didn’t have the luck in front of goal. In the second-half we didn’t look as good but got the goal, only for us to be unable to maintain our earlier good form and we paid for it. Overall though it was a good work out.”

Goalscoring was Matlock’s achilles heel last season and although it has again looked problematic in the pre-season programme, Atkins is not too concerned.

“We’re creating chances, if we weren’t then I’d be worried.

“Friday night proved though that we’ve got to get things right in both boxes. We hit the post and the keeper’s made three or four great saves.

“But with all respect to Staveley we should be going there and keeping a clean sheet. They’ve scored from their first shot and that’s disappointing so there’s still work to be done.”

Encouragingly though for Matlock followers, Atkins has been working feverishly to strengthen his attacking options.

“I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire in the striking department and I’m looking to sign one, if not two forwards before the start of the season,” he added.

One signing that has gone through is midfielder Niall Dawkins who was released by Derby County to become Matlock’s eighth new recruit of the summer. He has also appeared for Sheffield United during pre-season.

Atkins said: “When we played Derby they made us aware of Niall. He’s come and played in the pre-season games and has done really well. He knows the game, he’s a good player with good qualities and I think he’ll do well for us.”