Published Date: 05 March 2009
By Ian Richardson
MATLOCK Town are expecting their biggest crowd for years when they host FC United of Manchester in the Gladiators' first Sunday game for more than two decades.
FC regularly take 1,000 or more fans away with them, and with fans from other league and non-league clubs fascinated by the attraction of the rebels, the message from Matlock officials is to arrive early to avoid congestion at the turnstiles.
And if Sunday's game is half as exciting as the season's opener at Bury's Gigg Lane ground which ended in a 3-3 draw, supporters are in for a treat.
Then, on Wednesday, it is another crucial relegation six-pointer and potential bumper crowd when deadly rivals Buxton make the short trip down the A6.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins expects to have at least one new face in for the FC United clash.
"I've put seven days notice in on a player and that will soon be up, so I'll be speaking to him with a view to him being with us before the weekend," he said.
"We need some fresh blood and I'm also wanting to bring in one or two more new lads by the weekend if I can."
"We've had poor performances at both Whitby and Witton in recent league games," he admitted.
"That can't go on. Wholesale changes aren't needed, but we need strength in a couple of areas."
Matlock have one or two knocks going into the game which might be another reason for Atkins to add to the squad.
Jamie Jackson, who destroyed United back in August, left the field two minutes from the end on Tuesday with an ankle strain.
Danny Wood has still not recovered completely from his hamstring trouble and Ryan Laight picked up a thigh strain.
Atkins, though, remains confident that the trio will be okay by the weekend and hopes Tuesday's disappointing defeat at Witton will be a distant memory and that his players will repeat what they got right in their victory at Boston three days earlier.
"The game at Witton was a great opportunity for us for having won at Boston, we could be breathing that little bit more easily had we won again," Atkins said.
"The team that gets out of this mess will be one that can win two or three games together.
"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 after the game and hopefully the lads will take on board what's been said.
"We've now got to get down to business on Sunday and get the three points.
"It's all about us and our levels of performance.
"If we can repeat performances such as Saturday's then we'll win more than we'll lose.
"The first forty-five minutes at Witton was terrible but it's no use crying over spilt milk.
"That game's gone now, we can do nothing about it now except not to play like that again and concentrate on the games to come."
Sunday March 8 (3pm)
Matlock Town v FC United of Manchester
Wednesday March 11 (7.45pm)
Matlock Town v Buxton