Matlock joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins finally got their man when experienced striker Shaun Harrad signed for the Gladiators after last Saturday’s 3-1 home win against Mansfield Town under 21’s.
Harrad had scored twice in that game and then on Monday night claimed another goal and an assist as Matlock were 3-1 winners at South Normanton Athletic.
The 32 year old, who played in the Football League for Notts County, Burton Albion, Northampton Town, Bury, Rotherham United and Cheltenham Town clocking up over 250 games also helped Burton win the Conference title to earn their place in the Football League. He made ten appearances for the England C team and after being at Wrexham, he finished his time in the Conference last season at Torquay United.
“We’ve been speaking to him on and off for three years but this has been our first real chance of getting him” explained Hopkins. “He knows how much we wanted him to come here and it’s paid off in the end. He’s very good in front of goal, very good with his back to goal and has massive experience plus a first class attitude. Let’s face it, you don’t play for Nigel Clough at Burton without having a good attitude. He showed his class with his goal against South Normanton, it was a great finish.”
Harrad is not likely to be the last signing Matlock make ahead of the new season. They have given chances to a number of trialists in their opening three games and as Kirkwood explained, more players are likely to become available during the coming weeks.
“There’ll be one or two more joining before the start of the season, players who maybe are trialling with Football League and Conference clubs. This is where our patience will come in but we’ve done a lot of groundwork already.”
Hopkins says the managers were far more happy with the South Normanton win than the Mansfield under 21 victory.
“We played well in the first half on Saturday but we were poor in the second half, a million miles off where we need to be. On Monday it was a bit of the opposite, for the first twenty five minutes we weren’t good enough but then we did okay. The South Normanton match was more physical, just what we wanted.”
Matlock hosted Sheffield United last night (Wednesday) and beat a strong Blades line up 2-1 in what was probably their best show in pre season to date.
“They were a good side so we had to work very hard and play well which we certainly did” said a happy Kirkwood. “There were lots of good performances all over the pitch so all in all we’re very pleased with what we’ve seen tonight as I suspect are our fans who saw a really good game between two teams wanting to play football but play with that competitive edge,”
Former Alfreton midfielder Todd Jordan signed after the game and will be in line to face Burton Albion at the DCJ Group Arena on Saturday in what promises to be another entertaining game. Marcus Dinanga, who was Matlock’s top scorer with 34 league and cup goals while on loan from the Brewers last season, should be wearing the yellow of Burton.
Kirkwood, a former Albion player, says another good afternoon’s football is on the cards.
“It’ll be an incredibly tough game for us for they’ll send a strong side. It’ll be nice to see Marcus again, he was fantastic for us. There’ll also be players who were playing Championship football last
season and will be doing so this season so it’ll be a good game for us and one for the crowd to enjoy.”
Midfielder Michael Williams is a doubt after coming off with a tight hamstring on Monday while Harrad is unavailable having an engagement prior to signing for the Gladiators.
Matlock travel to Staveley MW on Wednesday night.