Matlock boss Mark Atkins admitted that striker Shaun Tuton’s departure up the A6 to divisional rivals Buxton was a huge blow.

Tuton quit the Gladiators for a second time, just seven months after rejoining them from Belper Town, after originally moving to Christ Church Meadow in October 2012.

“It’s something we obviously didn’t want to happen,we wanted to keep him and build our team around him” said Atkins.

Tuton, renowned for his infectious enthusiasm and tremendous work rate, was the perfect foil for top scorer Danny Holland. He hit eight goals in nineteen appearances in his second spell at the club.

“We offered Shaun a contract in February and he said he wanted to think about it. Then during the summer the contract was still there for him on increased terms but Buxton made him a fantastic offer, one we felt we couldn’t match” Atkins explained.

So now Atkins has the task of not only replacing Tuton but increasing the firepower in his forward line and throughout his side. The Gladiators scored sixty one times in their forty six league games, but only three clubs managed fewer goals in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division.

On the subject of new players Atkins added “I’ve made offers this week to a number of players and it’s a matter of waiting to see what happens at the moment.”

But better news emerged regarding the Gladiators’ contract players from last season.

“All of our existing contract players have agreed terms” Atkins revealed. “Oscar Radford and Joe Leesley signed theirs last week, Micky Harcourt and Liam Needham are now ready to sign while David Haggerty, Adam Yates and Jon Kennedy were already sorted. There’ll be a number of trialists taking part in our pre season programme, training begins on Tuesday and hopefully we’ll get two or three good lads through that route.”

Ian Richardson

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