Two of Matlock Town’s brightest young stars have signed new one-year contracts ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Defender Adam Yates and midfielder Liam King have signed on the dotted line, to the delight of Gladiators manager Mark Atkins, who views their continued commitment as a significant step forward in preparing for what he anticipates being “a very tough league.”
“They’re both exceptional young players who’ve been great for us and were excellent last season, so I’m naturally delighted that they’ve committed themselves to the club again. The team spirit we have at this club is first class and they obviously enjoy being here. They’re also very popular with our supporters, who will no doubt be as pleased as we are with the news.”
Yates moved to Matlock from Northern Counties East League Shirebrook Town after starring for his former club in a narrow Derbyshire Senior Cup semi-final defeat by the Gladiators in February 2009.
Equally adept at either right full back or in a central defensive berth, Yates has developed into one of the most consistent defenders in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division. He was named as the players’ player of the season and scooped the club’s young player of the season award at Matlock’s Presentation Night on May 6.
King arrived at Matlock after being released by Rotherham United in the summer of 2008 and has been a tower of strength both in midfield and in spells at centre half and right back in his three years with the Gladiators.
Atkins is still working hard to bring in fresh blood and is hopeful of a positive response from one player by the end of this week.
“We’re working hard to bring players in and have spoken to a number of players but it’s still early days yet. We’ve made a number of offers and we’re waiting for players to come back to us but I’m hopeful we’ll hear something from one player by the end of the week, and hopefully it’ll be good news.”
Atkins believes that the Evo-Stik Premier Division will be as hard as ever next season.
“Again, it’s going to be a very tough league as I expect all of the top teams from last season to be up there challenging again. Then there’s Chester who so far have bought three top quality players (including Marine’s Jamie Rainford and Buxton’s Mark Reed who are both prolific strikers) and I don’t believe their spending will end there. Chorley have come up with money behind them and will be very organised with a management team of Gary Flitcroft and Matt Jensen.
“Stafford have come down from Blue Square North and will want to get back up quickly while Hednesford are back in the league, having come so close to winning promotion from their league last season. If anything, it’ll be tougher but I believe we’re capable of again making a good impression.
“No-one from last season has said they’re not coming back (apart from Ross Hannah) and we’re looking to bring in a little more experience to help the younger lads along when the going gets tough.”
Another award came the way of the departed Hannah last week when, along with his grandfather, the top scorer from last season travelled down to London to collect Non-League Football’s Golden Boot Trophy.
The pair attended the ESPN soccernet.com National Games Awards Ceremony.
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which is Non League Football’s end of season awards dinner at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground. Hannah’s 52 goals earned him the recognition and a move to League Two outfit Bradford City. On June 18 Hannah will be at the Evo-Stik League’s Presentation Night in Blackpool to collect the Premier Division’s Golden Boot for the second successive season.
Matlock look likely to conclude their pre season preparations with a trip down the A6 to Evo-Stik First Division South neighbours Belper Town on Saturday August 6. The new league season gets under way seven days later. One change to the scheduled programme sees them visit Sheffield FC on Thursday July 28 instead of Saturday July 30 at the host’s request. The Gladiators return for pre season training on Thursday June 30.