Interim Matlock Town Dave Hoole is refusing to be downhearted after he tasted defeat for the first time in eight games.
The Gladiators were beaten 2-1 in a thriller by play-off contenders Ashton United on Tuesday.
“Defeat’s not something I enjoy but the lads gave me everything they’d got and I can stand being beaten by a better side who just edged it with their discipline and how they were set up,” he said.
“Ashton are a really good side and you can see just why they’re up there challenging. They’re the best side we’ve faced in my short spell in charge so far.”
Hopes were high that the Gladiators would extend their winning sequence to seven games when a cracker from Ted Cribley gave them a 17th minute lead, but Ashton were back level through a John Pritchard free kick five minutes later and scored the decider thanks to a bullet header from Jack Dyche with thirteen minutes left. Even then Matlock might still have snatched a draw.
“We had chances to pinch a point at the end and we’re disappointed in how we conceded that second goal” Hoole continued. “It was a good ball in but we were a bit naïve in not following the runners.”
Matlock probably missed the physicality of Ricky German who was with Chesterfield at Alfreton in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final in a longstanding agreement between the Gladiators and the Spireites.
German will, hopefully return for the last game of the season at Shaw Lane on Saturday, the Barnsley side almost certainly needing to win their home game with Barwell on Thursday and then beat Matlock to keep their play-off hopes alive.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get the chance to test the goalkeeper more after going in front but we had to work very hard to create chances against a good strong defence.” said Hoole.
Harry Wood (18) again deputised for the injured Michael Williams, having started both the Workington win last Saturday and the Ashton clash while 16-years-old Zak Brunt came on for Joe Doyle-Charles for the last third with Doyle-Charles still having pain from a foot injury.
“We’d got a couple of our own young lads in and we ‘re really pleased with them again. Harry Wood did ever so well, added Hoole. “He’s a young kid who’s still improving, still developing.
“But he’s give everything again. He’s got some improving to do but he’s growing in confidence whether it be with the first team or the reserves and I rather think it’ll be more with the first team from now on. Zak’s still very young but has an old head on young shoulders.”
Hoole expects a game similar to the Ashton one at Shaw Lane.
He said: “They’ll be another tough side but we won’t hide away, we know we’ll give them a good battle and we’re up for the challenge to try and finish the season on a high. I’m enjoying every minute of it.”