Experienced defender top priority for Matlock Town

Matlock town v Ashton united. Matlock manager Mark Hume.
Matlock town v Ashton united. Matlock manager Mark Hume.

Matlock Town boss Mark Hume wants a striker and will prioritise adding an experienced defender to his squad for the second half of the 2015/16 season.

It comes following the cancellation of centre-half Harry Coates’ Northern Premier registration with the Gladiators to allow him to play for First Division North outfit Harrogate Railway Athletic.

Leeds-based Coates signed for Matlock at the start of the current campaign before he was recalled by parent club Harrogate Town last month and Hume would like cover if injuries were to strike.

“Harrogate Town had some injuries so Harry had to go back but now they have players fit again he needs games,” said Hume.

“Lawrie (Wilson) and Adam (Yates) are doing so well together at present that I can’t really alter things there, but we have an agreement with Harrogate Rail that should anything happen and we need Harry, we can have him straight back. I just can’t find him a starting place at the moment.

“I’m looking now for another defender and also a striker but the defender is my priority. I also want someone with experience and a permanent addition, someone I can rely on to be in the squad every week and perform consistently for I doubt we’ll get someone as good as Julian Banton on loan like we had last season.

“I’m wanting a settled squad, that’s why I’m favouring a permanent signing. But I think we’ve got a good squad, we’re okay defensively apart from competition in the centre although Micky Harcourt can play there. We’re really well off in midfield and it would be nice to have that extra striker to compete with the lads we already have there.”

While Matlock’s first game of 2016 might not take place until Saturday, January 16 at home to Ramsbottom United thanks to the monsoon conditions. Last Saturday’s home meeting with Grantham was called off during the morning and now has been rearranged by the Evo-Stik NPL for Tuesday, February 2. But the signs do not look good for this weekend with Matlock due at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park to take on Darlington 1883.

The North East has been battered by the storms, and the Quakers’ last home game was an FA Trophy victory against Mossley as long ago as October 31, with their last home league fixture being a home win over Mickleover Sports seven days earlier.

Darlington also ground share with landlords Bishop Auckland who have staged three Northern League fixtures there in November, but there has been no action during December, including the postponement of Bishops’ scheduled home match with Dunston Federation during the Christmas Holiday week.

“It was frustrating not to play Grantham for it would have been nice to go into another game after the good performance at Ilkeston,” said Hume. “It would have finished the Christmas and New Year period off nicely but we can’t do anything about it. We’ve done quite well with our home games, to be honest I never really expected the Blyth and Buxton games to go ahead, so we can’t complain.”

More downpours are expected and looking through the uncertainty ahead of Saturday, he added: “We’ll be planning for the game as we have to but we’ll probably provisionally arrange some training for the lads should the game be off.”

If the weather abates and the game is on, Hume admits his side will face a tough challenge against a side who won at leaders Blyth Spartans last timeout, but he also pointed to results last Saturday to highlight the unpredictability of the league.

Gladiators will be without the suspended Ted Cribley, who starts a three match ban after his red card in the home defeat by Buxton on Boxing Day, but are likely to have defender Micky Harcourt back following a hamstring injury and Ben Algar after illness.