Defender Ashton Hall could be the next young Matlock Town star to earn a move to a leading Championship side.

Hall, who turned eighteen last October has been spending the week at Leeds United and might be following in the footsteps of Max Hunt and Zak Brunt who have made the step up with Derby County and Sheffield United respectively in the last thirteen months.

Matlock boss Dave Frecklington watched Hall turn in an “outstanding” performance for United’s under eighteen side in a closed doors 3-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.

“Ashton’s been training with the Leeds under twenty three’s and then played for the under eighteen side against Shrewsbury. He was excellent, outstanding, playing on the right of a back three in the first half and on the right of a back four in the second half. He’d gone into the game off the cuff with just one training session with Leeds so to step up and play so well with a totally new group of people was brilliant. His attitude and application has always been outstanding and I’m really really pleased for him. He’ll be training with the under 23’s again for the rest of the week, It’ll give Leeds the opportunity to take a really good look at him and to make a decision on him at the beginning of nest week. He didn’t put a foot wrong against Shrewsbury and looked like he’d been there for all of his career.”

Hall, on contract with the Gladiators, made his first team debut as a substitute in a 3-1 loss at Workington on September 1 and quickly made a favourable impression with Frecklington and his management team when they replaced Dave Hoole shortly afterwards. He has so far made ten first team appearances for Matlock.

“He’s been fantastic for us but needs to go to a Football League club to enhance his development” Frecklington added. “His attributes far outweigh the non league game. This football club must be doing something right with Max and Zak earlier moving to Football League clubs and very good ones at that. It gives us confidence that we know we can drop into our academy for potential first team players. When I came into the building I looked at Ashton and could see there was a player in there, with the greatest respect he’s head and shoulders above academy and reserve team level, he just needed to get adjusted to the physicality of the Northern Premier League. I’ve been offered Academy players on loan from Football League clubs but I’ve turned them down. What’s the point in having our academy if we don’t use it? I’d rather give our academy players the chance. We’ve a fantastic set up here at Matlock and our academy gives young lads who are being released from Football League teams some belief that there’s a pathway to the first team, We must be right up there with non league clubs who are giving young players the chance to compete at first team level and Ashton’s the talk of the town, the name on our supporters’ lips so it’s full credit to the people who run our academy and everyone behind the scenes at Matlock that these young lads are getting noticed and having the chance of making a career for themselves in full time football. We ”

Frecklington also paid tribute to Leeds United who he says, gave Hall and Matlock a marvellous reception.

“Leeds United welcomed us with open arms, they gave us a full tour around their facilities and made us all feel at home. The way they conducted themselves as a club was pure class. Ashton was the only trialist there this week and it was brilliant for us to be able to watch him behind closed doors. Everything was in place to the last detail for Ashton, they obviously had his best interests at heart, they’re a top class football club.”

Ian Richardson

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