New Matlock boss Mark Hume wasted no time at all in starting the ring of change at the Autoworld Arena as he set to work in trying to lead the Gladiators to Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division safety.

36 years old Hume was only appointed on Thursday after former joint bosses Dave Rushbury and Martin Foster departed by mutual consent a day earlier, but within twenty four hours five players had been brought in, including himself on playing terms and all featured in his first game in charge against Ashton United last weekend.

Although his debut match ended with a 1-0 home defeat, Hume was far from downhearted, and then announced three departures earlier this week. But that’s not the end of his wheeling and dealing with more transfer news expected ahead of this Saturday’s crucial must win game at home to Witton Albion, when he expects to field a new striker.

In came the experienced former Buxton duo of Scott Maxfield and Grant Black who will double up as Assistant Manager and Coach respectively, with two Sheffield United youngsters, defender Julian Banton and attacking midfielder Otis Khan coming to Matlock on loan.

Then on Monday Joe Leesley, James Ashmore and Lawrence Gorman went through the exit door with Hume explaining that it still might not be the end of their Matlock careers.

“Scott and me go back a long way to our Doncaster Rovers and Barrow days, we’ve been together in football for eighteen years and Grant was with me at both Stalybridge and Buxton, they have good experience and good contacts. Grant is a UEFA B coach but will be playing more than Scott as he’s younger. Scott though has a good intelligent head on his shoulders and can come on and do a job in either midfield or defence. As for me I could go on either up top or at the bcd, I’ve got the strength to win my fair share of headers although I reckon it’s highly unlikely I’ll be on that much. But to have three members of the management staff that can play is a bonus and good for the budget, what’s the point of having people just sat on the sidelines? Obviously we’ll have to re-evaluate that when we can’t play anymore but at present we’ve got the best of both worlds.”

Hume says he has a gem in Banton and Khan is one for the future.

“I took Julian to Bradford Park Avenue and he’s played centre half, right and left back, he’s very, very strong for his age, has pace and isn’t bad in the air. He can be a bit casual and I’ve told him that the Evo-Stik League is quicker than he’s used to playing for the under 21’s. He did well last Saturday and their manager came up to me at the end asking where we got him from adding that we’ve got a great player. Otis did okay but faded after a great first twenty minutes. He’s got pace, is very direct and a good option for us.”

Explaining the reasoning behind the three departures Hume added

“James Ashmore’s been as good as gold and a credit to himself and the club. He took the decision like a man, we explained that we’re overloaded in midfield and he accepted we’re crying out for a striker and he could see our reasoning in that it would release some of the budget for a striker. We didn’t want to see him left high and dry so we’ve said he can continue training with us to keep him ticking over. Joe was one of the contract players asked by the previous manager to look for a new club so naturally he put the feelers out. He was hesitant about leaving but he’d already agreed to join another club. I told him he’d got to do what was right for him and basically I don’t want any player here who’s unhappy. He leaves with mine and the club’s best wishes and who knows he and Ash might be back at a later date. We also have a lot of defenders hence Lawrence leaving, it’s a matter of making tough decisions in the best interests of the club.”

Reflecting on the Ashton defeat, Matlock’s fifth on the trot in the league, Hume said it showed him all he needed to know about the job he faces at Matlock.

“We lack firepower, we’re great at keeping the ball but it was only towards the end we created chances when we threw the kitchen sink at them. Their goal was a mistake on our part but up to then we’d been compact and it was the first time they’d been in our half! We miss the cutting edge up front, the vital delivery and people arriving at the right time to play off the main striker. Hopefully that’ll be addressed this week. I hope fans can see we’re trying to change things by the people coming in, we needed a fresh outlook and my message is let’s give this a real go.”

Witton are seven points ahead of Matlock, the Gladiators having played one game fewer and with they next two matches after that being a trip to Stourbridge next Saturday and a visit from Marine in a fortnight, Hume knows this is a season defining run of matches for his side.

“We need wins against Witton and Marine, a point’s not much good although okay at Stourbridge so let’s go for it. Let’s do our utmost to keep the club up, we won’t stop fighting but we need to get this season over, hopefully still in this league and then build for next season. I’m here for the long term, having spoken to people at the club and seen the fan base Matlock Town shouldn’t be struggling against relegation, they should be up the other end competing for the play offs. That’s for the future, we just need to survive this season first.”

Both Adam Yates and Phil Roe, injured in the Derbyshire Senior Cup win at Alfreton, will not be fit until at least next weekend.

Matlock will now travel to the winners of the Glossop North End versus Chesterfield clash in the last four while Gresley host Ilkeston in the other semi final tie.

Ian Richardson

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