Delighted Matlock Town boss Dave Hoole this week won the race to sign Shirebrook Town goal machine Kieren Watson.
Hoole had been keen to take some of the pressure off forward and assistant boss Shaun Harrad and the 32-year old Watson fitted the bill perfectly.
Watson netted 52 goals for the Northern Counties East League side last season, turning down offers from clubs higher up to finish the season with Shirebrook and received the supporters’ player of the season.
Other clubs were also in for him this summer, but he chose to become Matlock’s sixth summer signing and a happy Hoole said: “Although Keiren is a little bit older than the usual signings, he has got the pedigree and he knows where the goal is.
“We have gone for someone who is a little bit different from Shaun.
“Shaun is a great player all-round but his speciality is with his back to goal, holding play up and bringing other players into it.
“On the other hand Keiren is a big, strong striker whose best attributes are running towards the goal and making the runs behind. So hopefully they will work very well together.
“They are a little bit ‘chalk and cheese’. Keiren is a fit, strong lad and it will be a good test for him. He scored over 50 goals for Shirebrook Town last season.
“One of my main concerns over those last nine games of last season was that we created so many chance and, no disrespect to the lads who we’d got up there, but we were not taking those chances as much as we’d have liked to.
“Keiren has got a very good eye for goal as last season and the few seasons before that show, so we are very pleased to get him.”
Hoole added: “Other clubs wanted him too. He is an honest kid.
“Last season he had one or two clubs sniffing round him when he was at Shirebrook, but one thing that struck me then was his loyalty.
“He could have jumped ship and gone elsewhere but he didn’t and he stuck by the Shirebrook gaffer and his team mates
“That is fantastic as it’s no secret there is not enough loyalty in football as it is. “So it’s great to have someone like him on board and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
While still looking for a new first choice goalkeeper, the Matlock squad will return for pre-season training this weekend.
“We have a squad meeting this week to get the boys together and tell them what is going to be happening and what we expect from them when pre-season starts on Saturday,” said Hoole.
Their first game is at home to a Mansfield Town XI on Tuesday, 17th July.
But the Gladiators have now also added in a home friendly with Derby County two nights later on Thursday, 19th July with a 7.30pm kick off at Causeway Lane.
The Rams team will include former Matlock player Max Hunt.