Boss dismisses relegation talk

Matlock Town manager Mark Atkins.
Matlock Town manager Mark Atkins.

MATLOCK chief Mark Atkins was due to add a second signing last night (Wednesday), having already brought in striker Bradley Grayson from Frickley Athletic late last week.

Atkins refused to reveal the mystery man’s identity until the ink was dry on the registration form but it is believed he will add to the Gladiators’ attacking options.

On Grayson’s recruitment, Atkins said that he would have liked to have signed him last season when goals were hard to come by for Matlock.

“I saw him three or four times last season. He’s young, hungry and quick and knows where the goal is. He impressed me.

“We’ve kept an eye on him and we would have liked to have drafted him in last season but he was under contract at Frickley. I think he’ll give us that pace we lacked.”

Grayson, 19, was with Doncaster Rovers before moving to South Elmsall, scoring a number of important goals in Frickley’s successful battle against the drop.

Atkins has spoken to a couple of potential replacements for departed midfielder Liam King, but is keen to stress that he feels existing players could fill the void.

“Liam going was a shock. Towards the end of last season, he and Kris Bowler played well together.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of players but I also believe the lads we have can do a good job for us.

“We used Adam Yates in there a bit, he did well and we’ll use the pre-season to see how he fares. Adam and the other lads will have the chance to show what they can do so at the moment I’m not worried.”

A number of non-league fans have Matlock down as potential relegation candidates on a national non-league website forum.

This probably stems from their poor away form and a disappointing final placing of 14th last term, but Atkins has hit back.

“They’re entitled to their opinion. We know a lot of money has been flashing about this summer but it’s a matter of working hard and getting the right blend. If we show these qualities and can add a couple more players then we’ll be more than capable of taking on anyone in the division.”

Only two clubs will go down from the Premier Division next season, instead of the usual four, following Football Association plans to increase the top tiers of the Evo-Stik NPL, Evo-Stik Southern and Ryman Leagues to 24 clubs from the start of 2013- 2014.

n Continued on page 25

This news was confirmed at the League AGM in Blackpool last weekend when the composition of the divisions was ratified subject to appeals by Darlington, who have been placed in the Northern League, the tier below the Evo-Stik First Divisions, and Northwich Victoria, who were relegated by one level from the Premier Division following administrative problems last season.

Good news came when sponsors Evo-Stik added a further three years to their current agreement.

The company were said to be delighted with the work of the league’s officials, clubs and fans of Evo-Stik clubs in making the deal work.

It had enjoyed tremendous commercial results and expected the trend to continue by continuing its deal with the NPL.

The Gladiators have confirmed another pre-season friendly at First Division North Ossett Albion on Friday, August 3 (7.45 pm).