DUNSTALL skipper Matt Gouldstone believes talk of tomorrow’s game against Matlock being a “54-pointer” are a little premature.
The Stags were outplayed by rivals Lullington Park in their opening match of the season, but bounced back to claim 11 points in an abandoned game against title challengers Ockbrook last weekend.
Visitors Matlock are currently bottom of the Derbyshire County Premier League – although they have only played one game – with Gouldstone’s side just one place off the drop zone themselves.
“Many people would already call this one a ‘54-pointer’, but I think the league is much tighter this year.
“I expect to see a gripping performance on Saturday, as Matlock won’t give anything away easily, and if we are to go home with the lion’s share of the points we will be made to work hard for it.
“I am particularly looking forward to this match, as it will give us a strong indication of our toughness as a unit.”
Despite still waiting for their first win of the season, Gouldstone believes there have been plenty of positives to draw from the two matches played so far.
He said: “Our performance on the first day of the season, whilst being far from our best, certainly included positive aspects and I feel that the result perhaps flattered the opposition a touch.
“In any game of cricket there are always critical moments and on this day we perhaps won 40 per cent of the match itself, but lost all of the defining moments.
“Thinking clearly under pressure continues to be the most important factor in top level cricket.
“The lads then came back well in the second weekend.
“It would have been easy to become disheartened, but once the first wicket was on the board against Ockbrook on Saturday we battled hard, and, considering the opposition didn’t have the courage or conviction to make the game an even overs affair, we then made them work extremely hard for their points.
“A note of Jamie Benstead’s tremendous performance in this match – it’s important that the senior players continue to lead from the front, and this was a simply stellar display with both bat and ball.
“Eleven points away at Ockbrook is generally seen in a positive light, no matter which side you are.”
The Stags followed up that performance with a victory over Alderley Edge in the ECB National Knockout first round.
Gouldstone said: “Our bowling, fielding, and behaviour on the field left a lot to be desired, and we had to have strong words in the changing room at the halfway point.
“That being said, we were clinical with the bat, and the weather conspired in our favour.
“Andy Malkin’s 20 not out to see us home in difficult conditions really showed me how much of an asset he can be at Premier League level – an exceedingly calm head in pressure situations.
“This game was a perfect example to the lads of winning those aforementioned critical moments.
“Our bowling and fielding is still a tricky area, and it’s something we’ll be working on hard during the week in order to compete in the league.”