Matlock Town head to Witton Albion with two main aims in mind on Saturday - to maintain their defensive solidarity but also to begin converting the chances that might have brought better results from their last two competitive outings.
The Gladiators have the joint third best defensive record in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division, conceding just 21 league goals in their 20 league games to date. But at the other end a tally of 30 goals scored is the joint eighth worst.
Manager Mark Atkins said: “It’s disappointing we’re not scoring more goals.
“In our last couple of games we’ve had three or four really good chances and if we’d taken just one of them in each game we’d have probably gone through in the FA Trophy plus got more points in the league.”
However, in spite of dropping two points in a 1-1 draw with United of Manchester last weekend, Matlock rose to sixth place, but then when United won 4-1 at whipping boys Droylsden on Tuesday night, it was Karl Marginson’s men who took over that sixth spot dropping Town down a place to seventh.
A win would be gratefully accepted as Atkins’ men have not won in the league since beating Ilkeston 1-0 on October 26, with three points being taken from four games in the past month.
Atkins though maintains that it is important that Matlock followers understand the bigger picture.
He added: “We’re seventh in the league on merit although few people expected us to be up there.
“However, we have to realise that clubs with bigger budgets are around us in the table and we’re doing it our way by not having players we can’t afford.
“The players in the main have been fantastic and deserve to be where they are for the hard work they’ve put in so far this season.”
Danny Holland drew level with the currently injured Daryll Thomas at the top of the Gladiators goalscoring chart as his tenth goal of the season gave Matlock a half-time lead against United.
“I thought we were solid defensively as apart from the mistake early on when the ball ran under James Ashmore’s foot and their lad broke clear for Jon Kennedy to make a great save, they didn’t really break us down,” said Atkins.
“It was disappointing to concede from a set piece for the equaliser but that was all they had apart from a long shot so I was really pleased that we kept a good side quiet.
“We needed to take one or two of our second-half chances after we scored a good goal to go in front, well finished by Danny Holland after good movement from Corey Gregory, something we’ve been working hard on.
“But although we had the chances we have to admit a draw was probably fair as neither side had that bit extra to win it.”
Witton reached the play-offs last season, losing to FC United, but have found life more difficult in their second campaign back in the NPL top flight.
They currently lie in 18th spot just one point ahead of the relegation area, but Atkins knows his team will face a tough match given Albion’s better recent form.
He said: “Witton have improved of late and have some good players.
“They were a very good side last season and we know we’ll have to be bang on our game.”