Gladiators: Ben Hunter sets his sights on a first team place for Matlock Town

Ben Hunter
Ben Hunter

Former Major League Soccer rookie Ben Hunter is eager to repay the faith shown in him by Gladiators chief Mark Atkins.

Atkins brought the 27-year-old back to the Reynolds Stadium for his second spell with the club from North Ferriby United.

The attacking midfielder, who has represented Great Britain at the World University Games in Bangkok, had been in and out of Billy Heath’s side since joining the Evo-Stik Northern Premier leaders from Matlock Town.

And Hunter, who can operate wide left or as a second striker, is hoping to pin down a first team place once he gets fit.

He said: “North Ferriby have a big squad and I was involved in a rotation system there. All I want to do is play games, I don’t want to be watching it from the bench.

“I want to get back playing regularly. I was finding some good form at North Ferriby and played against Matlock earlier in the season.

“I was feeling good, then I found myself out of the side due to other commitments.

“Mark Atkins offered me the chance to come back to Matlock and it suited me.

“I have a huge amount of respect for Mark with what he’s achieved in football and I hope that when I get a bit of fitness back to show what I can do on the pitch.”

Hunter has a role in identifying talent for Doncaster Rovers’ youth system and revealed he had options further afield of Matlock but chose to remain in the area after taking a break away from football over the festive period.

“I took some time out over Christmas to be with my family and I’m hoping when I get a bit of fitness back to challenge for a place,” he said.

“I’m happy to stay at Matlock and do well for the manager and the club and I’ll see how things are in the summer.”

As a promising teenager, Hunter was offered a scholarship at the University of North Carolina.

His success led to him being drafted into the MLS by Columbus Crew but a serious groin injury while out on loan cut his time short.

In a desperate attempt to get back to full fitness, Hunter suffered recurring problems and admitted it was a ‘frustrating’ time for him.

He added: “I have got some great memories from playing football and I don’t fell bitter.”