Matlock Town have finally got their man

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Matlock joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins finally got their man when experienced striker Shaun Harrad signed for the Gladiators after last Saturday’s 3-1 home win against Mansfield Town under 21’s.

Harrad had scored twice in that game and then on Monday night claimed another goal and an assist as Matlock were 3-1 winners at South Normanton Athletic.

The 32 year old, who played in the Football League for Notts County, Burton Albion, Northampton Town, Bury, Rotherham United and Cheltenham Town, also helped Burton win the Conference title to earn their place in the Football League.

He made ten appearances for the England C team and after being at Wrexham, he finished his time in the Conference last season at Torquay United.

“We’ve been speaking to him on and off for three years but this has been our first real chance of getting him,” said Hopkins.

“He knows how much we wanted him to come here and it’s paid off in the end. He’s very good in front of goal, very good with his back to goal and has massive experience plus a first class attitude.

“Let’s face it, you don’t play for Nigel Clough at Burton without having a good attitude. He showed his class with his goal against South Normanton, it was a great finish.”

Harrad is not likely to be the last signing Matlock make ahead of the new season. They have given chances to a number of trialists in their opening three games and as Kirkwood explained, more players are likely to become available during the coming weeks.

“There’ll be one or two more joining before the start of the season, players who maybe are trialling with Football League and Conference clubs,” added Hopkins. “This is where our patience will come in but we’ve done a lot of groundwork already.”

Hopkins says the managers were far more happy with the South Normanton win than the Mansfield U21 victory.

He added: “We played well in the first half on Saturday but we were poor in the second half, a million miles off where we need to be.

“On Monday it was a bit of the opposite, for the first 25 minutes we weren’t good enough but then we did okay. The South Normanton match was more physical, just what we wanted.”

Matlock hosted Sheffield United last night before there is another attractive home friendly on Saturday afternoon when Burton Albion are the visitors.

Marcus Dinanga, who was Matlock’s top scorer with 34 league and cup goals while on loan from the Brewers last season, should be wearing the yellow of Burton.

Kirkwood, a former Albion player, says an attractive game is in prospect.

“It’ll be an incredibly tough game for us for they’ll send a strong side. It’ll be nice to see Marcus again, he was fantastic for us. There’ll also be players who were playing Championship football last season and will be doing so this season so it’ll be a good game for us and one for the crowd to enjoy.”

Midfielder Michael Williams is a doubt after coming off with a tight hamstring on Monday while Harrad is unavailable having an engagement prior to signing for the Gladiators.