Dan’s the man for Gladiators

Kris Witcombe
Kris Witcombe
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Persistence looks to have paid off for Matlock chief Mark Atkins after he finally got his man.

Long term target Danny Davidson put pen to paper for the Gladiators ahead of last weekend’s FA Trophy clash with Hyde and warmed up with his new team mates even though being cup tied prevented him from taking part.

The 32-year-old, six foot plus striker had a month’s loan spell at the Reynolds Stadium from Alfreton Town towards the end of the 2008-09 season.

His four goals, including a hat-trick in a 4-0 home victory against Marine, certainly contributed to Matlock winning their battle against relegation.

Atkins wanted to sign Davidson on a permanent deal during the following summer but Boston United came in with a better offer.

It was a similar story for Atkins during the last closed season.

“I spoke to Danny during the summer after he left Boston but he opted to accept an offer from Worksop which was more than we could offer him.

“I’ve been trying to get another striker in for a couple of months, particularly since Nathan Joynes got injured and it looks like Nathan will need an operation on his knee after his scan.

“I’ve spoken at length with Danny and we finally agreed terms on Thursday.

“I’m delighted he’s signed, it’s great news for the club.

“He did very well when he was here before and we hope he can do well for us again.”

Derby-based Davidson was expected to make his debut in last night’s home meeting with Hednesford.

Again, as on Saturday, it was a case of looking at how many fit players were at the manager’s disposal.

Ian Holmes, Micky Harcourt and Oscar Radford all missed out against Hyde through injury.

Then Gareth Davies, a doubt beforehand with a hamstring strain, suffered further discomfort and should have come off at half time, as should Chris Bettney who had a chest infection.

Both battled on but Ben Algar could not feel his leg, was unable to walk and had to withdraw at the interval.

It took an injury time free-kick from Adam Griffin to edge the Blue Square North leaders through to a tie at Boston United.

“That was harsh on us,” proclaimed Atkins.

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“Given the circumstances, it was a very good performance. The commitment was first class against a very good Hyde side.

“We got the tactics spot on and the players deserve full credit for carrying out the instructions we gave them to the letter.

“If we’d been that more clinical from two or three good openings in the first half, who knows, we could have even won it.”

“But to lose the way we did was sickening. It was never a free kick but you can’t take anything away from the quality of the strike.

“The referee’s had a poor game, that decision cost us. But I was very pleased with our performance and we must look to carry that forward into league games now.”

Holmes, Harcourt and Radford were all expected to miss the Hednesford game, but cup-tied Lee Morris was due to return while Lee Featherstone, out for a month with a leg injury, replaced Algar during the Trophy defeat.

Matlock take on fifth-placed bogey side Bradford Park Avenue at the Horsfall Stadium on Saturday.

The Gladiators have lost the last seven league matches between the two clubs, including a 1-0 verdict at the Reynolds Stadium in September.

“We’ve played poorly up there in the last two seasons so we’ll need to be totally switched on to come away with anything,” Atkins warned.

“But we did play very well against them at our place earlier in the season, but they still beat us.”

Matlock go there without both Davies and Liam King who are suspended.

Finally, a change of fixture on Saturday week (December 10) sees Matlock travel to Stocksbridge Park Steels instead of FC United of Manchester. United are in the FA Trophy on that day.