A change of heart from a retired goalkeeper has given Matlock Town a major boost and already helped them to three points and a clean sheet.

Phil Barnes has returned to the club, just a week after he announced he was hanging up his gloves. The experienced stopper was back between the posts for Matlock’s 1-0 win against Mickleover on Tuesday. Gladiators joint boss Glenn Kirkwood said Barnes contacted him over the weekend saying he wanted to return to the DCJ Group Arena.

“Phil’s back full time and we’re all absolutely delighted,” said Kirkwood. “He rang to speak to me last Sunday and told me he was missing it and he was regretting saying he was finishing. “In the time he was away he’d had three or four offers from clubs at a higher level but he said his loyalties lay with Matlock. He loves it here, he loves the place and him coming back has lifted everybody. “When we thought we’d lost him it was a terrible blow – he’s a big character in the changing room and on the pitch “He’s also popular with the lads and the supporters so we’ve welcomed him back with open arms.” Barnes was named as both fans and players player of the season in his first campaign with the Gladiators and it is perhaps no coincidence that Matlock kept their first clean sheet in six games against Mickleover.

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