the npl

Weekly News - 8/7/20

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Weekly News - 8/7/20

Matlock Town have thus far announced eight new summer signings, they could quite conceivably make that nine but with a familiar face in winger Craig King.

King innocuously ruptured his acl in the home game with Farsley Celtic in February 2019, just a couple of days after signing an extended contract with the Gladiators. It’s been a long and winding road to recovery but the dynamic winger is now seeing a good ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m not yet one hundred per cent” he admitted.

“There’s a little more for me to do yet in terms of strengthening and working a lot harder on my lateral and quick movement. I’d like to say that in another month or so I’ll be raring to go.”

Those words will be music to the ears of Matlock fans who instantly took to King after he joined the Gladiators from Alfreton Town in October 2018.

It’s been a long seventeen months for King and the fans, King being forced to watch from the sidelines as his team mates struggled for results, and the fans keeping their fingers crossed that King would recover from a potentially career ending injury to be able to entertain them once again.

“It’s been a long time, it’s a long road both physically and mentally from such an acute injury and it’s quite hard doing all of the recover y work. It’s also been frustrating, you’re wanting to play, I badly wanted to give the lads a boost by getting the crosses in for the chances and truing to score goals but it’s just one of those things unfortunately and it’s a case of just getting on with it. You always doubt yourself when you’ve got a bad injury wondering will I ever get back to full fitness and like I say it’s been very tough mentally and physically. There’s been days when my rehab’s gone quite good and then the next day you feel it’s not gone as well as the day before that but you’ve got to drive yourself through it.”

King is hoping the Matlock fans will see the same Craig King that was a shining light in the weeks before his injury.

“The fans know how I played, taking defenders on and running at players, getting crosses in and shots off, I want to get back to how I was, to give the fans a show and if my rehab continues to go well I can fulfil that” he added.

There have been two management changes at Matlock in his time on the sidelines, Matlock now being managed by Paul Phillips who replaced Steve Kittrick who had come in for Dave Frecklington in the close season a year ago.

King has been impressed with the new recruits and is looking upwards and for promotion after a few seasons of bottom half finishes for the Gladiators, including a third bottom position when the 2019/20 season ended after being declared null and void.

“There’s a new bunch of lads and everyone’s got to get familiar with one another but the gaffer’s made some good signings. The objective is to get promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs. It’s doable, definitely. Everyone’s working hard in training and if that can be replicated in a game situation we can be right up there. There’s strong competition for places and that can only be a good thing.”

King says the support from both the football club and the fans has spurred him on.

“I’m very appreciative of the backing I received from the club who’ve been fantastic with me, the fans have also been great, always asking about me and willing me to get fit again, so it’s a massive thank you from me to the club and the supporters. I can’t wait to be back playing and to get some wins in the bag for everyone”

Phillips says it will be like welcoming a new player when King is back in the squad fighting for his place.

The Matlock boss was beaten to his signature by Dave Frecklington when he was manager at Buxton two seasons ago.

“He can be a big threat for us going forward, everyone knows what a good player he is” said Phillips.

“He’s worked so hard after a long time out, the club supported him over the last year and a half and now he wants to repay the club. He’s great to work with, he’s a fit lad and he’s the lightest he’s been. He needs games though for you can’t beat playing in competitive, physical games. Hopefully he can return to how he was and we’ll have a hell of a player on our hands.”


Matlock boss Paul Phillips says the thinking behind many of his eight new signings is to be more effective in both penalty boxes.

Both strikers Sefton Gonzales and Liam Hughes stand at 6’5” and 6’4” respectively with central defender Sam Egerton a couple of inches shorter but Phillips says it is athleticism and the requirement to work hard which are key factors.

“They’re all athletes, but good with their feet. For me you’ve got to be physical in both boxes, that’s something I felt we lacked last year, especially in the opponents box as our goalscoring record wasn’t the best. Set pieces in this league and the one above for that matter are really important and I don’t think we had enough appreciation to put the ball in the net by attacking it in a positive manner.”

The need to work hard has been a common theme expressed by the new arrivals when interviewed on Matlock Town TV.

“Hard work’s a minimum, I don’t think there’ll be a fitter team in this league. The lads have worked hard at the sessions we’ve put on and they’ve all been given programmes to work on during the enforced break, so when training’s stepped up when we know we have a date for the season to start, if there’s anybody who hasn’t adhered to the programmes, they will be found out.”

Local striker Ben Edgson will again be part of the Matlock squad and will be looking to push his claims for a place in the starting eleven after a season out with an ankle injury. Phillips plans to help him by arranging a dual registration deal with New Mills to aid his development and the recovery process.

“It’ll do him a power of good with Birchy at New Mills, playing at a decent level, we have a good relationship with New Mills which will hopefully be beneficial to both clubs” Phillips added.

Ian Richardson