By Hugo Varley
You’d be hard pressed to find a club who have experienced the kind of start to the season Matlock Town have!
As the nights began to draw in and the calendar rolled into October, the Derbyshire side found themselves rooted to the basement of the Northern Premier League after enduring a torrid opening couple of months.
But, since then, the appointment of new boss Dave Frecklington has heralded a remarkable upturn in form, which has seen the Gladiators heroically hoist themselves away from danger and move towards the upper echelons of the table.
Last weekend’s battling 3-1 victory over Whitby Town was Matlock’s ninth league win in their last 13 games, which continued the Frecklington revolution and lifted the Gladiators to within touching distance of the play-off positions.
“It’s been a fantastic turnaround,” beamed Frecklington, who actually tasted defeat in his first three matches, before sparking the recent revival by masterminding a 5-2 win at North Ferriby.
“We have been averaging about two points per game, which is promotion form so I couldn’t ask for anything more from my players.
“When I arrived the team were low on confidence and playing a style of football that wasn’t getting points, so it was absolutely vital that we got the recruitment spot on.
“The lads have been great at both ends of the pitch. We have kept a tight ship at the back and are no longer conceding two or three goals a game.
“We have also played some really exciting football in the final third and have secured a few high scoring wins over the likes of Grantham and Nantwich.”
Matlock’s only league defeat since the start of October was a surprise drubbing at the hands of promotion hopefuls South Shields, where Frecklington’s side shipped five unanswered goals.
Nevertheless, the Gladiators’ boss believes that a few positives can still be taken from that disappointing afternoon in Tyneside three weekends ago.
Frecklington added: “The South Shields game was a strange one because a lot of aspects did not go in our favour in the lead up to the match.
“Our game on the previous weekend was called off, which meant that we had a two-week rest and perhaps lost our momentum a little bit.
“We were second best all afternoon and I think some of the players assumed that they would just turn up and everything would fall back into place so in many respects it was a useful reality check for everyone.
“It made us realise that we can’t take things for granted and I have been really impressed with the reaction from the lads because we have since bounced back with three wins.”
As Matlock have progressed up the table, Frecklington’s side have quickly become the talk of the town and the Gladiators boss is excited for what the second half of the season has in store.
“The club and the local area feels like one big family at the moment and everyone is really buying into what we are trying to do here,” he added.
“Attendances have been growing and we had over 500 people come through the turnstiles for the game against Stalybridge a few weeks ago, which was brilliant to see.
“We have gone from relegation favourites to possible play-off chasers, which is pretty remarkable. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“We have got to continue to work hard and do the basics right and then we will see where we are when the summer comes around!”