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Festive fixtures are "make or break" for Gladiators boss

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Last Saturday's 4-1 victory at struggling Colwyn Bay brought a timely halt to Matlock Town's four match losing run in league and cup ahead of two big festive derbies at home to Buxton on Boxing Day and the Christmas Monday visit to Ilkeston.

There were four different scorers as Joel Purkiss, Laurie Wilson, Ted Cribley and Niall McManus all found the target, but boss Mark Hume was not completely satisfied by what he saw.

"It was good in patches, we did very well in the opening twenty five minutes going 2-0 up but then suddenly we thought we were a top side and took things too easy and I wasn't happy with us in the last twenty minutes of the first half. We'd destroyed Colwyn Bay in the opening twenty five minutes but then let them get back in it, we don't need to be doing that.

Then another defensive mishap saw them score and Colwyn then had another couple of chances that could have seen the earlier good work undone. But their chances don't outnumber the ones we had. At 2-0 it should have been three or four, had we taken them it takes the pressure off the lads at the back so there's still things for us to improve on and I'll continue to highlight these areas to the players."

Christmas is a time which Hume says "can make or break you" and if his side has any designs on challenging the leading clubs, they will be looking for a decent return of points from their Derbyshire rivals.

Buxton have a decent record at the Autoworld Arena recently, last losing a league match there against the Gladiators back in 2007/08. Matlock have done reasonably well at Ilkeston's New Manor Ground in the last few years winning there in two of their last three visits.

"Christmas is always tough for the lads as they know they have to be careful with such a lot going on but we've got a good set of lads and they'll be fine as we'll prepare well for the two matches" Hume added. "A good Christmas can set you up well for the rest of the season. Buxton will be tough but we had a good battle with them last season and we did well in beating Ilkeston earlier in the season."

Ben Algar, Micky Harcourt, Ted Cribley and George Willis all picked up slight injuries at Colwyn Bay but Hume says all four should be fit for the weekend when he will also add Daniel Cockerline to the squad, the loan striker not travelling to North Wales due to a tight hamstring picked up while training with his parent club, Sheffield United.

Hume added striker Charlie Dawes to his squad ahead of the Colwyn Bay trip. Dawes had a loan spell with Matlock last term from Chesterfield and this season has been with divisional rivals Mickleover Sports.

"Charlie can play wide or down the centre and he's the type of player I've wanted. There's no need to rush into things, I'm getting the good squad I want."

Reflecting on close to twelve months in the Gladiators managerial hot seat Hume said " I think things are a lot better than they were at this time last year. Okay our present league position could be better but with the squad we're putting together, I think people can see we're making progress as we're playing much better football.

We need to ensure we're tight at the back and convert more of the chances we're creating. The club's also learned a lot during the year with regards to contracts and money, which will safeguard us for the future.

We had to battle for three or four months to stay in the division and now lads are performing better week in, week out. Liam Needham's a prime example and Niall McManus wouldn't be playing here if he took the chances that come his way. Jack Siddall's done well from the reserves so all in all I think we're moving in the right direction."

Source: Matlock Town FC

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