Source: Chesterfield Post
Matlock Town could well have their biggest gate of the season on Saturday with the visit of FC United of Manchester.
1,036 fans watched the single home defeat to champions Chester three weeks ago, and like the Cestrians, United always travel with a healthy following, with their fans proclaiming that Matlock is one of their favourite trips of the season.
On the field they will be wanting to get their play off charge back on track after Easter Holiday defeats by Buxton and Ashton United, which means they lead sixth placed Hednesford Town on goal difference only.
Last season's game attracted 1,249 on a balmy April day - and the indications are that there could be a similar turnout this time.
As for Matlock, their Easter return was just one point from six, which ought to have been better, given their second half dominance at Buxton on Monday when they should have added one, if not all three points to the one they gained in last Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Marine.
Captain James Lukic grabbed an 88th minute equaliser against the Mariners, and Lewis McMahon was on the scoresheet at Buxton, before it was the Gladiators who were on the receiving end of a late goal as the Bucks pinched all three points with a breakaway 89th minute winner.
A win on Saturday will finally put to bed any lingering relegation fears, (Matlock are14th and are 99.99% safe anyway), but also see them reach the 50 point mark.
Manager Mark Atkins is convinced that the half century of points should have been claimed at the SilverlandsManager Mark Atkins (left) is convinced that the half century of points should have been claimed at the Silverlands, but acknowledges that poor defending for both Buxton goals proved to be their undoing.
"Giving away the goals in the way we did upset me because over the ninety minutes, we had more possession, some good chances and it's probably the best we've played for a while. It's ever so disappointing to lose, as both goals were down to poor defending. Buxton had three chances yet scored twice.
"I was very pleased with the performance, they gave it their all, were up for it and dominated most of the game. Perhaps we showed naivity in trying to win the game, there are times when it's best to settle for a draw and that's probably what we should have done. But having said that, we now have three games left and we've got to try and win them and be positive."
Some fans criticised the entertainment value in the Marine game, but Atkins replied "People have got to realise that Marine are a very good side who have done very very well away from home (they had won thirteen out of nineteen league games on the road losing just twice). The plan was to keep it tight, although we didn't do as well attacking wise as I'd hoped. We did well defensively, only to make a bad error from the free kick for their goal. But the lads deserve credit for they kept going and got their equaliser."
Atkins was also delighted with striker Nathan JoynesAtkins was also delighted with striker Nathan Joynes (left) who has played for the whole ninety minutes in both Easter fixtures having initially been ruled out for the rest of the season after knee surgery.
"Nathan's done great with two ninety minutes over Easter. It was touch and go whether he played at Buxton, but he wanted to give it a go and he did very well for he gives us a different dimension."
Gareth Davies (cut head) and Laurence Gaughan (knee) both picked up injuries at Buxton but should be fit to face the Reds. The same goes for Liam King (deadleg) and Paul Riley (ill) who did not feature on Monday, although King was an unused substitute. Striker Liam Wilkin, who has missed the last three matches with damaged ribs is likely to need a fitness check.
Given the potential of a bumper crowd on Saturday, Matlock officials are urging fans to arrive earlier to avoid congestion at the turnstiles.
"Given FC United's position and the fact that Matlock is a popular venue for their fans, we expect it to be busy on Saturday, so supporters should try and get down a little earlier than usual" said a club spokesman. "The turnstiles will be open from 12 noon and the Social Club will be open for the televised football.
"We very much look forward to welcoming FC United and their fans to our ground and trust they enjoy their day, they've been impeccably behaved on every visit so far, and are a credit not only to their club, but to the Evo-Stik League and non league football in general. I'm sure we'll see an entertaining game."
Matlock bring the curtain down on their home campaign on Wednesday night when Whitby Town visit the Reynolds Stadium, and their season ends on Saturday week at Rushall Olympic.
by IAN RICHARDSON