Exciting winger Jason Stokes is the latest Matlock Town signing and with Phil Roe having agreed terms for a return to the Autoworld Arena, competition for places down the left flank looks fierce.
Joe Leesley had a fine season operating from left back last term and will be keen to retain his place, although as manager Mark Atkins pointed out, Stokes can be equally useful in other positions.
Stokes signed a deal with Ilkeston FC at the beginning of last season where he was popular with the Robins’ fans but a third of the way through the campaign, Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson let him go.
Atkins said he has been keen on bringing Stokes into the club for a good while. “I wanted to sign Jason last year when he was at Ilkeston but he wanted time out,” said Atkins, “When he became available I was only too glad to try and get him again.
“I like what I’ve sen from him, he can play wide, in the hole or up front and has good quality on the ball. With Roey coming in as well and with Joe already at the club, it makes us strong down the left with Roey and Joe offering cover at the back and Jason’s versatility.”
Worksop Town’s resignation from the Evo-Stik NPL is Matlock’s gain as far as Roe coming back to the club he left midway through the 2012/13 campaign to join the Tigers.
Atkins recognized the need to add to his attacking options, particularly after dominating Saturday’s friendly at Retford but only squeezing victory thanks to an 89th minute header from Leon Osborne in a 1-0 win.
The pre season so far in terms of results and performances have been a mixed bag.
“With the games coming early we haven’t done that much training,” said Atkins. “I thought we were very good against Derby, I wasn’t happy with us against Chesterfield (Matlock lost 4-1), while at Retford we gave opportunities to trialists who I thought did very well on a very hot day in a game we dominated from start to finish.
“We haven’t done a great deal of finishing practice yet and that’s something we’ll be working on. There’s a couple of trialists I’m wanting to take a look at later in the week.”
Midfielders James Ashmore and Liam Needham have sat out recent games through knee and ankle injuries respectively with club captain Needham expected to feature in Friday evening’s home meeting with Grimsby Town (7.15pm).
Matlock scoring legend Ross Hannah, who currently holds the club record for most goals in a campaign, (52 in 2010/11 before moving to Bradford City) is expected to feature for the Mariners.
“When we had Jon Hedge on loan from Grimsby last season we spoke about a pre season friendly and it’s great that we’ve got them down here. It’ll also be great to see Ross again who was absolutely fantastic for this football club, and I’m sure our fans and Ross himself will enjoy the night,” added Atkins.
Matlock host Mansfield Town next Wednesday (7.45 pm) before traveling to Sandy Lane, Worksop to face Handsworth Parramore on Saturday week.