Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips pleased by club's pre-season progress so far

“If the season started tomorrow, I’d be more than happy with what we’ve got,” said Matlock manager Paul Phillips in a mid-term close season report.

By Ian Richardson
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 9:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 9:50 am

Matlock have retained most of their regular playing squad from last season with the major departures being captain Liam Hughes and midfielder Terry Hawkridge to Worksop Town and this week Ross Hannah announcing he would be leaving due to increased work and family commitments to play nearer to his South Yorkshire home.

Goalkeeper Joe Young has returned to parent club Wolves while fellow custodian Shaun Rowley, who spent the latter part of last season at Carlton Town, is moving to London with his family.

Also departing the Proctor Cars Stadium are winger Osebi Abadaki, goalkeeper Paul Cooper, midfielder Benito Lowe (to Curzon Ashton), Danny Greenfield at the end of his loan from Gateshead and who has now signed for Spennymoor Town and the retired Liam King.

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Ross Hannah has confirmed he is leaving Matlock Town due to family and work commitments. Photo: Craig Lamont.

So far Phillips has made four additions in Grantham Town goalkeeper Jim Pollard, Radcliffe midfielder Simon Lenighan, and strikers Aaron Opoku (Carlton Town) and Jake Day from Scarborough Athletic.

Phillips said: “I’ve spoken to one or two others as I feel we might need back up in some areas but if the season started tomorrow, I’d be more than happy with what we’ve got.

"I knew the vast majority would stay for Matlock’s a great club which is down to all of the hard work and enthusiasm from people behind the scenes and of course the fans.

"Last season was a building block, for me we’ve got to go one better next season.”

There’s also been a management change with Kayde Coppin being promoted to assistant manager following Dave Wild’s exit to take over the managerial reins at Runcorn Linnets.

As far as Phillips is concerned, Coppin’s new role is a natural progression, having carried out a lot of the duties already at Matlock.

“For me Kayde’s done that job in every bit but name during the last 12 months. It was a no-brainer, he’s been a great player and has all the attributes to become a good manager.

"Above all he’s a winner, I trust and believe in him and in time I’m sure he’ll be successful as a manager in his own right.”

As for the new signings, Phillips says his recruits ‘all bring something different to the party.’

He added: “Jim was in a struggling team last season but really excelled, we’ve watched him numerous times and he clearly wants to better himself and get back into the Football League.

"I’ll be bringing in another keeper to push him like I did with Coops (Paul Cooper), but Jim’s a top drawer goalkeeper who with the guidance of Steve Shuttleworth will develop and get even better.”

On Opoku, Phillips says the 26-year-old striker can hopefully provide the goals Matlock lacked towards the end of the season.

He said: “He’s a raw talent and with the right management, guidance and coaching he’ll score goals at this level for he’s got the pace and he’s a real powerful unit.”

Day had no qualms about joining the Gladiators and Phillips is pleased to have him on board.

He said: “He would have come whether or not Hughesy was with us, we need a number nine to lead the line and score goals.

"He got 12 or 13 in an injury hit season and I think he’s capable of 15 to 20, he’s more of a threat in front of goal than Liam and brings all that Liam did for us.

"We were sorry to lose Liam, he’s been fantastic for us on the field and in the dressing room and is welcome back any time if things work out that way.”

Lenighan began his career with the Leeds United youth set up and has had a number of clubs since including Rotherham United but has more recently been at Buxton, Matlock snapping him up from league rivals Radcliffe.

Phillips said: “He brings a lot to the table and now he’s settled down he’s proving to be such a good player, he really shouldn’t be playing at this level.

"He had offers from elsewhere but chose Matlock as he knows what we’re all about, he’s joining us for the right reasons.”