'Mr Matlock Town' is praised for efforts as he makes his 600th club appearance
MATLOCK Town chairman Tom Wright has praised James Lukic after watching the club captain make his 600th appearance for the Gladiators.
Lukic joined Matlock as a 16-year-old in February 1998 and made his debut in the Derbyshire Senior Cup against Glossop North End.
Now he is second in the Gladiators' all-time career records table, behind Mick Fenoughty, who presented him with a memento from the club prior to the New Year's Day draw with Buxton.
Wright said: "It's rare at any level to have a player with the tremendous loyalty shown by James and he thoroughly deserves every bit of praise he gets.
"In many ways he's Mr Matlock Town. He's a person highly respected not only here but throughout non-League football in general."
Matlock manager Mark Atkins echoed his chairman's sentiments.
"He's been excellent since I've been here," he said.
"James is Mr Consistency and has played when probably he shouldn't have through injury to help me and the team.
"He's been a real pleasure to manage."
Lukic injured a groin in the 4-0 win at Rushall Olympic on Boxing Day but typically recovered after being rated doubtful to make his 599th appearance in Saturday's 6-1 drubbing at Worksop Town before facing the Bucks.
Lukic will be in the squad for tomorrow's trip to Blyth Spartans as Matlock aim to build on a decent point against Buxton.
Atkins was left shell-shocked as his side were thrashed 6-1 by Worksop, before they drew 1-1 with Buxton.
Matlock were 5-0 down after only 25 minutes at Sandy Lane and the manager says his side got what they deserved.
"We weren't switched on in those opening 25 minutes," he said.
"Losing Adam Yates in the warm-up was a blow and Worksop took full advantage of Laurence Gaughan's rustiness.
"To be fair to him, he held his hands up and said he was at fault for four of the goals because he lacked fitness.
"However, we defended very poorly as a team and didn't create enough, even against 10 men."
Atkins had his squad in for training on the Sunday morning.
"We needed to sort things out, to let people get things off their chests and it was worthwhile," he said.
"We created our downfall against Worksop although you have to give them credit because we were poor.
"I thought the reaction in the Buxton game was excellent, though, and it was a vital game for us to show people what we are all about.
"We played all the decent football and were the better side, creating enough chances to win it."
Midfielder Glyn Cotton, who only joined Matock from Frickley Athletic in September, appears to be on his way out of the club.
Cotton was withdrawn at half-time at Worksop and told Atkins he wanted to leave over the weekend.
He was not selected against Buxton and Atkins was disappointed with his reaction.
"Glyn wants to go elsewhere," he said.
"I told him he had to come to the Buxton game even though he wasn't selected but his attitude wasn't the best. He drove off before the game after not being named in the team."
With Gareth Davies likely to be out for at least two weeks after cutting his shin in the Worksop defeat, Atkins has aiming to bolster his squad.
He currently has two seven- day approaches in for players and hopes to have clearance to speak to one of them before the Blyth Spartans game.