Holmes, Bettney leave Matlock

Matlock Town update, by Ian Richardson

Striker Ian Holmes' second spell with Matlock Town has come to an end after just one season.

Manager Mark Atkins has decided to release him, in spite of Holmes finishing as the Gladiators' top scorer last term with seventeen league and cup goals.

A disappointing league campaign saw Matlock finish in 14th spot, scoring just 52 goals from their 42 league matches, the third lowest tally in the division. Holmes contribution was 14.

Atkins was clearly expecting a larger total from his main striker who in his first spell with the Gladiators in 2006/07, found the target 34 times in league and cup. A repeat this time around never looked on.

Holmes is believed to be returning to university, this time in Lancaster in September, but Atkins said this played no part in his decision to release him.

"He was our highest paid player by a considerable distance and when we sat down and looked at things we decided we couldn't pay him the same again. We went out on a limb to sign him, we didn't get him with our first offer but we managed to get him when we made an improved offer. But we didn't get as much from him as we thought we would, we were looking for 25 to thirty goals but he just managed fourteen in the league."

Holmes had been scoring goals in the division below, finishing as the Evo-Stik First Division South's leading scorer while at Glapwell who resigned from the Evo-Stik following ground problems in May 2011.

But it didn't happen for the Liverpudlian this time and now Atkins has the tough ask of finding an out and out goalscorer for 2012/13.

Liam Wilkin has knocked in the goals regularly for Winterton Rangers in the Baris NCEL Premier Division and netted three goals in two mid season friendly outings for Matlock before grabbing his first competitive goal in Matlock colours in the 1-1 draw at Chasetown in March. Frustratingly for Wilkin, Atkins and the fans, he was struck down with a rib injury in the following game.

Atkins believes Wilkin can offer him something different in an attacking sense, but he will be working hard to get his man.

"We have a few names on our radar, not necessarily big name strikers but players having watched them we feel we could do a good job for us. We're looking at strengthening our squad in general and have approached four or five players, they haven't said yes, they haven't said no, it's still early days yet."

Winger Chris Bettney is also leaving for pastures new after one season with the Gladiators. Bettney was often a thorn in Matlock's side, being on the scoresheet for Alfreton Town, Bradford Park Avenue and Retford United against Matlock over the years. Matlock fans were hoping he would repay them when he arrived from Worksop Town but he failed to build on his early promise.

"He began well for us but was then injured and then things happened which meant we never saw the best from Chris" Atkins explained. "He didn't feature towards the end of the season and we felt it only right that we release him so he can find another club."

Contract players James Lukic, Jon Kennedy, Adam Yates, Liam King and Micky Harcourt will all be with Matlock next season, and the non contract players on Matlock's books from last season, apart from Bettney, are all expected to feature in 2012/13.

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