Interview: Matlock Manager Mark Atkins

Matlock Town manager Mark Atkins has set out his season expectations at Causeway Lane after his side’s second pre-season friendly against Chesterfield.

Atkins, entering his seventh season in charge of the Evo Stick Northern Premier side, has eyed an improvement upon the 12th place finish achieved last season.

The 45-year-old said: ‘We are in a situation where we want to start every season wanting to get promoted and that’s how we’ll start.

‘Our expectations might be a little bit lower than that, but at the football club we want to do as well as we can and finish higher than last season and hopefully we can get in the play offs. If not we’ll just try to finish as high as we possibly can.’

Having secured the services former Bradford City striker Leon Osbourne, Atkins believes there is still a considerable amount of recruitment to be done having lost strikers Shaun Tuton and Daryll Thomas to local rivals Buxton and work commitments respectively.

He said: ‘We’re still a long way off, obviously we’re only in the second week of July so we’ve got a lot of games to play and there’s a lot of training to be done and we need to get fitter.

‘We’re still looking around for players and we’ve got people on trial who we may take and we’re still looking at certain positions where we can strengthen.’

With the Gladiators’ pre season preparations well underway having welcome Derby County and Chesterfield to the Autoworld Arena, the former Blackburn midfielder stressed the importance of facing such a high calibre of opposition before the season opener on August 16th.

Atkins said: ‘The main thing is getting as much money through the gate before the season starts as possible to help everybody out, but on a playing side we’ve tried to get the six games in when normally we would only have three.

‘We tried to get six because we feel that if we play against better teams then the better we are going to get and it will help us more during the coming season.

‘The two games we’ve had, they’ve been two good games and we’re pleased with how we’ve gone about them.’

Matlock face Sheffield Wednesday on July 16th before welcoming Grimsby Town two days later ahead the visits of Mansfield Town on July 23rd and Premier League new boys Leicester City on July 29th.

On the remaining four games of what has been branded the ‘Big Six’, Atkins said: ‘We’ve just got to do our best; the big thing for me is the attitude and the commitment of the players to take into games.

‘Against Derby their approach was first class, I think tonight [against Chesterfield] we were a bit off and there may be reasons for that but we need to come to every game and be on our metal 100% because if not you do get turned over.’

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