the npl

Trio join as Philips continues Gladiators rebuild

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Trio join as Philips continues Gladiators rebuild

Paul Phillips’ restructuring of the Matlock Town squad gathered pace with three more new faces at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

Central defender Sam Egerton, attacking full back Declan Walker and striker Liam Hughes have all signed on the dotted line to take the number of new recruits at Matlock to eight.

Egerton (28) joins from NPL North West Division outfit Trafford where he was captain, having previous NPL experience at Ashton United, Nantwich Town, Stalybridge Celtic and Lancaster City.

“I’ve been with Sam when I was at Ashton United when we made the play-offs” said Phillips.

“He’s played many, many games at this level and I wanted to bring him in last season but he had a great relationship with Trafford’s manager at the time, Tom Baker and he wanted to stay loyal to Bakes and Trafford which is great to see. He’s a leader, he commands respect and has a presence on the field, he’s a fighter and the type of lad who’ll ensure everyone’s doing their job.”

Walker, also aged 28, spent last season at Stalybridge Celtic having joined the Bower Fold club from Aberystwyth Town in the Welsh Premier League. He finished as top scorer for Aberystwyth in 2018/19 with 14 goals which included the winner in the Welsh FA Cup Final against Bala Town. He started out at Wrexham, coming through the youth sides to make nineteen first team appearances, winning a National League runners up medal in 2010/11 and an FA Trophy runners up medal in 2012/13., His Republic of Ireland international career looked promising when he was impressive in under 19 friendlies against Ukraine in 2010 and in 2011 he helped Eire qualify for the under 19 European Championship finals. But injury cut short his international aspirations in 2013. Walker has also played for Droylsden and Bangor City.

Phillips says Walker should add a fresh dimension to Matlock as an attacking unit.

“To be fair he can play right back, right wing back or right wing and he’s another lad I was interested in last season. I’ve watched him two or three times and he’s impressed me every time, he’s been outstanding. He’s top drawer at set pieces. It’s a position I’ve looked at ever since I came to the club and I think Declan can be the perfect fit, he can be the perfect foil to get us forward by joining the attack and make us more dangerous.”

Hughes (27) stands at 6’4” who started out as a central defender but was converted to an attacking role while he was with Cambridge United where he would play 161 games and score at Wembley as Cambridge beat Gateshead in the National League play off final in 2013/14 to regain their Football League status.. He was released by mutual consent in January 2016 and joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Premier League playing nine games. He moved to Barrow in 2016/17 before moving to Guiseley and then Billericay Town during the following season. He joined Darlington in 2018/19 before having short spells at Gainsborough Trinity , Stratford Town, Bradford(Park Avenue) and latterly Frickley Athletic.

Hughes is the striker Phillips was referring to last week and he is delighted to have got his man.

“Liam’s had his problems but he’s now got a grip on the issues off the field which affected his life “ said Phillips.

“He’s played the game professionally and can play at either centre half or at centre forward. He’s lost two and a half stone and got his enjoyment of football back. He’s got a presence and when the ball’s played up to him it’ll stick. I reckon Liam and Sefton Gonzales could form a decent partnership, they’ll compliment each other well and I think we’ve got a lad who can score ten to fifteen goals for us, maybe more . He’s been coming from Hull for all of the sessions we’ve put on and that speaks volumes about his commitment.”

Phillips has already brought in strikers Sefton Gonzales and Kayde Coppin, winger Callum Dolan, midfielder Callum Chippendale and full back Reece Kendall as he strives to put his own personal stamp on the Gladiators squad.

Ian Richardson