MATLOCK Town boss Mark Atkins added two more key players to his squad this week as the Gladiators returned for pre-season training.
Having already recruited strikers Brad Grayson and Lee Ellington last week, the Gladiators’ midfield department has now been strengthened with the signings of Lewis McMahon and James Ashmore.
McMahon made a big impression at the Reynolds Stadium last year after signing on loan from Gainsborough Trinity, from whom he has subsequently been released.
And Ashmore, who counts Sheffield United and Hungarian side Ferencvaros among his former employers, arrives having most recently been at Frickley Athletic.
Atkins said: “All four players we’ve just signed were high on our ‘wanted’ list so I’m delighted they’ve come here.
“Lewis did a great job last season and scored some vital goals, though we played him in a more advanced role than is natural to him so it may be he’s utilised slightly differently this time.
“Versatility is key at this level, particularly with quite a small squad, and Lewis will offer us that.
“I watched James Ashmore play three or four times this season and he was the best player on the park on each occasion.
“He’s also very fit and having seen him in training on Tuesday he could almost start the season tomorrow!
“I wanted to sign James even before Liam King left for North Ferriby, but given that situation it makes him an even more valuable signing.”
Matlock appear to have both youth and experience in attack with Grayson and Ellington signing on the dotted line.
Atkins says 19-year-old Grayson offers pace which had been lacking while Ellington, 32, has been a regular scorer in Blue Square North at Gainsborough Trinity, Harrogate Town, Stalybridge Celtic and last season at Guiseley.
“I know Lee well having been with him at Stalybridge for three seasons.
“He’s an excellent goalscorer having done it all of his career in the league above,” said Atkins.
“I wanted to sign him towards the end of Ross Hannah’s time here but he wasn’t available, so we couldn’t do it.
“But we’ve got him now, he’s a great signing for us and it’s a credit to everyone involved at the club in getting him here.”
With regard to the squad’s return to training, Atkins was enthused by what he saw.
He said: “There were 22 players there on Tuesday, including some trialists, and everyone looked raring to go.
“The squad is now coming together well but there may still be one or two additions if the trialists impress.”