It was a case of one striker in and one striker out at the Autoworld Arena this week as Matlock Town boss Mark Atkins continued to plan for the new season.
Having recently lost Shaun Tuton to local rivals Buxton, Daryl lThomas, who joined Matlock from Belper Town at the start of last season, is now leaving the area due to work commitments.
However, Atkins moved quickly to replace him by bringing in Leon Osborne to boost his presently depleted attacking options.
Osborne, 24, who can also operate as a winger, began his career at Bradford City but first team appearances were limited to 36 between 2006 and 2012 in which he found the net just once.
He then moved to Harrogate Town before sampling Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division football at Buxton and Frickley Athletic last season.
Atkins said: “I’ve seen him two or three times in the last couple of years and he’s done well against us.
“He likes the ball to feet which suits us and he will offer us more versatility,” said Atkins. “He’s joined us for the pre-season build up and shown up well and wanted to come here.”
Atkins was disappointed to see Thomas depart but fully understands the former Ilkeston striker’s reasoning.
“He’s got a job down in London so obviously has to leave the area. He did well for us and we thank him for his efforts and he goes with our best wishes,” added the Town boss.
Thomas hit 11 goals in 33 appearances last term and was the second top scorer behind Danny Holland, so Atkins will be keen to bring in more competition for attacking places with Holland and Osbourne currently the only recognised first team strikers.
Atkins said: “We’re looking at some trialists at present in all positions and there’s a couple we’re trying to do something with, Talks are in progress and it would be good to add to the squad.”
Matlock faced Chesterfield for the Autoworld Trophy at the Autoworld Arena last night (Wednesday) and they went into the contest encouraged by a good performance against Derby County in their opener last Thursday, which the Rams won thanks to a Craig Forsyth strike late in the first half.
“It was a very pleasing performance from us. Our lads looked fit after the summer break and had gone through three good training sessions beforehand. We looked well-organised and gave Derby a good game. Steve McClaren told us he was pleased with the workout and was complimentary about our display. Our endeavor, commitment and work rate were first class and although there wasn’t a great deal from us going forward because we were up against a good side, we still created two or three good chances.”
The draws for the opening rounds of both the FA Cup and FA Trophy were made last week and Matlock were handed a tasty local derby at home to Ilkeston FC in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday, September 13.
The Gladiators must travel though in the Trophy to Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division new boys Halesowen Town on November 1. The Yeltz won the First Division South title last year, and Atkins acknowledges both will be tough matches for his side.”
Following last night’s game with Chesterfield, Matlock are next in action on Saturday with a re-arranged trip to Retford United, which was originally scheduled for July 19. Kick-off 3pm.