Matlock Town boss Mark Atkins has expressed his disappointment that the Gladiators’ good form was interrupted by their exit from the FA Cup on Saturday.
Having warned his players of the dangers of complacency ahead of their visit to First Division South promotion contenders Carlton Town, Atkins was left annoyed that his words went unheeded as the Gladiators were beaten by Blair Anderson’s fifth minute goal.
“Complacency definitely crept in even after I’d hammered it into them that they needed to perform against a decent side who would provide tough opposition,” said Atkins.
“A lot of the players were under par and their attitude didn’t seem to be right.
“What a time to give their worst performance of the season, particularly in the first-half, in an FA Cup tie with prestige and money at stake.
“They didn’t express themselves and they certainly didn’t play to the conditions. It was a bobbly pitch and we needed to be more direct. We gave them an early goal and very nearly gave them another so we were probably fortunate not to be two goals down at half time.”
Matlock had won all three previous cup games against the Millers, but on Saturday they created little of substance from open play. The nearest they came to a leveller was direct from an 81st minute Micky Harcourt free-kick as prize money of £4,500 was frittered away.
Now it’s a case of seeing how Matlock react and Atkins and the fans will be watching with interest.
He said: “That should be a big wake up call for us and it proves what I’ve said many times that you just can’t turn on and turn off in terms of your performance when you want to.
“I suppose we’ve only had two performances that have been below par this season but really that’s two too many.”
The Gladiators will now be looking to consolidate their current position of tenth in the table as they play the current bottom two on the next two Saturdays.
It’s Stafford Rangers at Marston Road on Saturday week but this weekend they travel to foot-of-the-table Droylsden who since being relegated from the Conference North at the end of last season have been on the end of several hammerings.
The Bloods have just two points from their 11 games played, having scored only seven times, conceding 36.
Atkins though is well aware of when Matlock took on Eastwood Town in a similar scenario last season. The Badgers won 1-0 at Matlock and the Gladiators ended up taking just one point from the division’s basement club as they drew 3-3 at Coronation Park.
“Droylsden might be being beaten right left and centre but again I stress that we have to perform ourselves,” he said.
“We need to go into this game and the one at Stafford next week in a positive manner and make sure we bounce back from last week’s disappointment.”
Matlock will need to check on the fitness of central defender David Haggerty who limped off with an ankle injury after 29 minutes at Carlton.
“David’s doubtful at the moment but apart from Lewis McMahon, everyone else will hopefully be fit,” Atkins added.