Saturday, March 07, 2009

Matlock Town: Concentration key if Gladiators are to emerge Sunday best

Source: Derby Evening Telegraph

Saturday, March 07, 2009, 07:30

MATLOCK Town manager Mark Atkins wants his side to increase their concentration level for tomorrow's eagerly-anticipated visit of FC United of Manchester.

Atkins, who is sweating on the fitness of Jamie Jackson, Ryan Laight and Danny Wood, said: "We've got to get down to business tomorrow and get the three points.

"It's all about us, our levels of performance and how we do on the day.

"Concentration will be the key."

The game, which has been moved back 24 hours at the request of Derbyshire Police, with FC United expected to bring around 1,000 supporters with them, should be a thriller for spectators if the last meeting between the two sides back in August is anything to go by.

Then, two goals from Ross Hannah and a third from Dene Cropper helped the Gladiators take a point from a 3-3 draw at Bury's Gigg Lane.

Atkins added: "It's a game that we're looking forward to.

"We have a few knocks to Jamie Jackson (ankle), Danny Wood (hamstring) and Ryan Laight (thigh) but I'm confident that they'll be OK."

There could also be a new face in the side, following the departure of striker Simon Barraclough to Belper Town.

"We need some fresh blood in the side," he added.

"We've had poor performances at both Whitby and Witton in recent league games. That can't go on.

"Wholesale changes aren't needed but we need strength in a couple of areas."

Atkins was left frustrated after watching his side beat Boston United and then fall to a 2-0 defeat against Witton Albion a couple of days later.

"Saturday's win over Boston seems a long way away now," he said.

"We did everything right that day.

"We were focused, the defence was very secure and we were always a danger going forward. It was a very good performance.

"We'd worked on a few things in training before the game, both defending and attacking, and they came off to a tee.

"Then we got two good goals. Once we'd scored the first one, we looked more comfortable and could then have won by more."

But that was where the praise ended and changed to grumbles.

"Against Witton, we were exactly the opposite for the first 45 minutes," he said.

"We didn't seem up for it and we definitely didn't work as hard. When we got in good positions going forward, the movement was poor inside the box.

"The game at Witton was a great opportunity for us to get a bit more breathing space and we've now lost that opportunity, which is annoying with two home games coming up.

"We've had a talk about a few things in the dressing room and, hopefully, the lads will take on board what's been said."