the npl

Safe hands Shaun signs new deal | Weekly News Xtra - 15/2/21

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Safe hands Shaun signs new deal | Weekly News Xtra - 15/2/21

Being a former goalkeeper himself with extensive non league experience and having started out at Manchester United, Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips knows exactly what it takes to do well between the sticks.

Phillips is also well aware that for a side to earn success, a dependable goalkeeper is a must and he feels he has just that with Shaun Rowley.

24 years old Rowley certainly had big boots to fill when he pulled on the Gladiators number one shirt, replacing the injured Jon Stewart who Phillips said was one of the best goalkeepers in non league. Stewart, who has now joined NCEL outfit Yorkshire Amateurs, was injured in a pre season meeting with Sheffield and with the new season fast approaching, Matlock desperately needed someone with presence behind their back line.

Clean sheets have been the theme of Rowley’s displays in a season which was curtailed through the covid pandemic. In fact he kept the opposition out in three of the six league games Matlock played with the opponents also firing blanks against him in two FA Cup matches.

Rowley was first seen by Town fans impressing in a 1-0 friendly win at Tamworth and he fought off the challenge of Kyle Trenerry who had played in Matlock’s final three games of the null and void 2019/20 campaign.

“Jon Stewart was always a great goalkeeper but he got injured and I think events in his life took a personal toll on his body. We’d struggled previously with loan goalkeepers. To be successful you need to have a dependable number one and a solid backbone” said Phillips.

Phillips believes Telford based Rowley will play a major role in the 2021/22 campaign when Matlock aim to build on a promising curtailed 2020/21 by sustaining a challenge near the top over a complete season.

“He’ll be massively important for us next year, he’s got to kick on and has a signed a contract with us (subject to FA approval), He’s started well but I reiterate it’s all about consistency and improving. He needs to be a little more vocal but that was coming into his game.”

Phillips added that Matlock will be adding another goalkeeper to the squad who can be loaned out if not wearing the first team jersey.

The Gladiators’ chief had spells at Ashton United, Droylsden, Stalybridge Celtic, Marine and Buxton among others as a number one outlined the qualities required to earn regular football at NPL level.

“I think I played too many games, that’s what my body’s telling me now. You’ve got to be prepared to get battered about, be vocal, be able to look after yourself and be a leader. We have lads with those qualities in the outfield positions and they will help Shaun as equally Shaun will help the lads.”

Ian Richardson