Trialists are offered deals

Matlock Town's Ben Algar takes on the Chesterfield defence in last nights Banner Jones Cup match at the Reynolds Stadium.
Matlock Town's Ben Algar takes on the Chesterfield defence in last nights Banner Jones Cup match at the Reynolds Stadium.
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Matlock boss Mark Atkins has offered deals to two more trialists after Tuesday night’s 5-1 home Banner Jones Cup friendly defeat to Chesterfield.

Atkins refused to divulge the players’ identities as he bids to strengthen his squad, already boosted by the close season signings of defender Ryan Laight, midfielders Lewis McMahon and James Ashmore plus strikers Lee Ellington and Bradley Grayson.

“Hopefully both will agree to join us. We need competition for places within the constraints of our budget,” said Atkins.

Former Doncaster Rovers and Forest Green Rovers midfielder Martin Foster, plus winger Ryan Hindley, who has represented a host of non league clubs in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, have both featured, along with winger Phil Roe, striker Joe Ledley and full back Will Dennis, once with Chesterfield. Chris Bettney, released at the end of last season, has asked if he could return to Matlock and he may yet be offered a deal.

The manner of the Chesterfield defeat left Atkins with his cup half empty.

“At times, we did okay, passing the ball well in certain areas but we gave away the ball too cheaply in attacking areas for my liking. Then we were guilty of some slack defending, especially in the first half.

But Chesterfield are an excellent side and were a very good test for us.

“It’s fair to say that I’ve learned more about the players tonight than in any other game so far, not that we’ll come up against sides of that standard in our league.”

So there is plenty for Atkins and his players to work on, with just over three weeks until the season’s opener at home to Nantwich Town.

“Concentration-wise, we need to step things up,” Atkins continued. “But I’m pleased with the fitness levels and workrate.”

Tuesday was in direct contrast to the easy 4-0 win at Shirebrook last weekend where Matlock bossed the game, and now Atkins will gradually be looking to trim down the number of players he uses in the remainder of the pre-season programme.

The Gladiators travel to Evo-Stik NPL First Division South outfit Hucknall Town on Saturday, which should represent a far more accurate assessment of what lies ahead once the season begins in earnest.

“There certainly won’t be as many players involved after Saturday, so really it’s their big chance to show me what they can do,” said Atkins.