Signing spree for Gladiators

RUNNING OUT OF STEAM: Belper Town's Ryan Hindley on the run against Chasetown on Easter Monday. Two defeats over the weekend have cost the Nailers their play-off place.
RUNNING OUT OF STEAM: Belper Town's Ryan Hindley on the run against Chasetown on Easter Monday. Two defeats over the weekend have cost the Nailers their play-off place.

Five new Matlock Town signings suddenly became ten after the Gladiators’ 5-0 thrashing of Hucknall Town on Saturday.

Manager Mark Atkins had already snapped up midfielder Martin Foster and left sider Phil Roe in the build-up to the match.

Then afterwards he added striker Joe Leesley and winger Ryan Hindley, who were both on target in Town’s nap hand, plus defender Will Dennis.

The signing spree now looks to be over.

“I can’t see anyone else now coming in for we’ve the nucleus of a very big squad,” Atkins explained.

“There’s basically two players for virtually each position so it’s very much an open book as far as the team is concerned for the first game on August 18.

“I know which way I want to play and individuals will tell me over the next couple of weeks by taking games by the scruff of the neck and showing they want to be in the side when the season gets under way.”

Foster, 34, should add experience to the Gladiators’ midfield and he is someone Atkins knows well.

“I played with him at Doncaster Rovers in the early part of his career and he’s played at a good standard (Forest Green Rovers, Halifax and Oxford United to name three of his teams). His experience will be vital.

“We’re trying to change the dynamics of our midfield this season and there should be more fluidity with Martin alongside James Ashmore, and Krissy Bowler and Gareth Davies also in the mix.”

Twenty-year-old Roe has twice been with manager Micky Adams at Sheffield United and Port Vale and has twice been released by Adams.

“He’s not played nearly anything as much as he’d have liked during the past year. He wants to get back playing and I think he’ll be a good lad for us as he can play anywhere on the left and even cover in midfield,” said Atkins.

Eighteen-year-old forward Leesley is nowhere near the finished article but Atkins sees potential and a former Matlock favourite played his part in Leesley joining Matlock.

“We knew about Joe at the end of last season but he had a two-week trial at Bradford City.

“He came down to us and he’d been travelling up to Bradford with Ross Hannah who told him that if things didn’t work out at Bradford there’d be no better non-league club for him to join than Matlock. So Ross has backed us up.

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He’s a good young player, a raw talent but we think there’s enough there for us to work on.”

Hindley has had many clubs in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, including fellow Derbyshire sides Alfreton, Ilkeston and Belper and he asked the Gladiators for a trial.

“He’s an experienced player who’s shown good quality in the games he’s played but now needs a little extra work on his fitness” said Atkins, who also added that former Chesterfield defender Dennis has also done well and will provide cover and competition in defence.

“ We may however try to loan Will out to a club in the division below to get him used to the physical challenge at this level”.

The Town boss said his side was “excellent” at Hucknall. “We took our chances and could have scored more, dominating 85% of the game. The players did the things we asked them to do so all in all I was very pleased.”

Matlock had an extra friendly at Handsworth last night (Wednesday) before they travel to Ossett Albion on Friday (7.45 pm). Recent injury victims Lewis McMahon, Kris Bowler and Nathan Joynes should play some part while James Lukic managed 55 minutes in an unexpected appearance at Hucknall.

Matlock host Sheffield United at the Reynolds Stadium on Wednesday.