Joint Matlock Town boss Glenn Kirkwood has told fans he is happy with his side’s difficult start to the new season after taking four points from two testing fixtures to sit in sixth spot in the fledgling EVO-STIK League Premier table.

Kirkwood saw the Gladiators bring back a point from last season’s beaten play-off finalists Stourbridge on Sunday before winning a five goal thriller with Hednesford Town at DCJ Group Insurance Arena.

This weekend’s visit from Altrincham, newly relegated from the National League North and who ended Matlock’s hopes of an FA Cup First Round Proper appearance with a 3-1 win at Moss Lane last October, will be the third in a hat-trick of hard games for Kirkwood and joint boss Craig Hopkins.

Kirkwood said: “I’m delighted with the results, especially the Hednesford one when we played really well. It was the polar opposite to Stourbridge but there we were solid and didn’t look like conceding against a very good side.Against Hednesford we could have been masters of our own downfall, giving away far too many daft free-kicks which put us under pressure. We were excellent with the ball and unfortunate not to be comfortably ahead at half time. The effort and commitment though in both games was first class.”

Kirkwood was also delighted to see Shaun Harrad open his account in competitive games for Matlock with a fine brace in midweek after being starved of decent service at Stourbridge. “Shaun and for that matter Marc Newsham (Matlock’s scorer) were excellent with no service on Sunday and then on Tuesday Shaun showed just how important he’ll be for us,” declared Kirkwood.
“We felt we needed some fresh legs on Tuesday and the changes we made were to make us more effective going forward. We were wasteful on Sunday but very good defensively, the Hednesford match saw us much better attacking wise. So it’s work in progress as the new players fit in. It’s a matter of getting the balance right between attack and defence.”

Altrincham have a much-changed side this term having brought in new boss Phil Parkinson from Nantwich Town with a number of ex Dabbers joining him at Moss Lane and a number of other impressive signings being made. But Alty will be disappointed with a 3-0 home defeat to Stafford Rangers on the opening day before they drew 1-1 at Nantwich on Tuesday.

“It will be another really tough game, they’ve taken some very good players from Nantwich and a very good manager,” said Kirkwood. “There’s some really good sides in the league this year and Stourbridge, Hednesford and Altrincham will right up there. We said when we saw the fixtures that the first three would be mega mega tough and the three points we got against Hednesford turned Sunday’s good point into a great point, On Saturday we’ll be going for the jugular and be all out for three points.”

Matlock are on the road again on Tuesday to the artificial Coles Lane to take on Sutton Coldfield Town. Ryan Wilson will need a fitness check after jarring his knee in midweek while midfielder Michael (knee) and winger Jamie Yates, who has had a recent ankle operation, are still probably at least a couple of weeks from a return. Teenage 6’6” defender and academy product Max Hunt has also gone out on a month’s loan to Belper Town.

Kirkwood added: “That’s brilliant for Max, he’s a very good player who has all the attributes but needs to be playing regularly. Jamie’s been doing a bit of running and will play with the reserves shortly. We’ve had to leave a couple of players out of the squad this week which makes it very hard but all we’re bothered about is winning games. The eleven with a shirt are always happy but there’s the five on the bench and the others not in the squad, it’s hard to keep everyone happy.”

Source: Matlock Town FC

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