Another league season gets under way for Matlock Town at newly-promoted Trafford on Saturday with manager Mark Atkins expecting better things from a squad containing seven new summer signings.
The Gladiators’ 17th spot finish last term prompted the Matlock boss to recruit, with four of his signings being regulars with Conference North clubs in 2012/13.
“The lads we’ve brought in should add strength and depth to our squad,” he said.
“I felt we lacked physical strength last year so the likes of David Haggerty, Anton Foster and Liam Needham will help us plus Corey Gregoryhas shown he has the guile that was also perhaps not there.
“All of the new lads have settled in well and we’re certainly looking better than we did at the end of last season.”
The other three new boys are strikers Danny Holland and Darryl Thomas ,while midfielder Liam Gaughan has also arrived at the Reynolds Stadium.
Atkins added: “I’m expecting the new lads will drive us forward providing power and experience.
“Four played leading roles at Conference North sides last year and hopefully they can supplement the lads we still have from last season.”
Atkins agreed Matlock’s pre-season campaign was ‘mixed’, a point emphasised by below par performances at Mickleover Sports and Eastwood Town sandwiching a fine display against Leicester City under 21s in the last ten days.
“We’ve had both good and bad parts in games and have been disappointing at times.
“But we’ve also shown some good qualities and our strength and when we can put the players we want out on that pitch then I think we’ll do okay.
“Our aims this season are to finish as high as we can in the league, there’s no point in making any predictions especially at this stage, and to do well in the cups to try and bring some money into the club.”
Atkins watched opening day hosts Trafford in friendly action a fortnight ago adding: “It’ll be tough going away to a newly-promoted side who’ll be up for the game and loving every minute of it.
“They’re a good side and know what they’re doing but if we play like we’re capable of doing, we’ll be more than a match for them.”
Matlock’s first home outing sees Stocksbridge Park Steels visit on Tuesday (7.45pm).
“Obviously we’ll be wanting to get our season off to a good start and two wins would be nice.
“I’m wanting us to be more aggressive in the way we play and then our quality and strength will come to the fore as we can hopefully score the goals to win the games,” Atkins concluded.
Matlock will be without the suspended Lewis McMahon and injured James Lukic for the opening matches.
Meanwhile, Matlock will travel to Mickleover Sports in the first round of the Doodson Sports League Cup on Tuesday, November 12.