Atkins surprised by King departure

Matlock Town update, by Ian Ricardson

Mr Consistency of the Matlock Town midfield Liam King has shocked the Gladiators faithful in moving on from the Reynolds Stadium.

The 24 year old had established himself as the Gladiators' kingpin in their engine room with a series of fine performances. After being at Matlock for four seasons since his release by Rotherham United, boss Mark Atkins fully expected him to sign a new contract. He now looks set for a surprise move to divisional rivals North Ferriby United.

But King admitted in a message on the club's official website, he felt he needed a change.

Atkins is far from pleased with King's decision, particularly as he offered him an improved deal after King revealed to him that other clubs were showing an interest in him.

"Liam was over the moon with the original deal but said two clubs had come back to him offering a lot more money" said Atkins. "He added that he didn't want to leave and we offered him a better deal that he was more than happy with. The contract just needed to be signed but the other week he came back to me saying he was still talking to other clubs with a view to moving on. I told him to think about it but he texted me back saying he was leaving.

"I'm not happy as an agreement had been made and once an agreement has been made I feel you should stick to it. Liam has been well looked after since I've been at the club, a regular player and my second captain after Steve Warne left."

King thanked the fans in his website address adding "I have very much enjoyed my time at Matlock and made some great friends at the club. it was a very difficult decision to leave but I felt I needed a change."

His departure follows those of leading scorer Ian Holmes and winger Chris Bettney who were both released by Atkins at the end of last season. The Gladiators' chief has been working hard in search of fresh talent, and was able to announce his first new recruit on Wednesday night. 19-year old former Doncaster Rovers striker Brad Grayson has joined from Frickley Athletic.

Earlier Atkins intimated that more signings could be announced soon.

"Last weekend I offered deals to three players and I'm hopeful we'll have positive news on at least two of them this week. I've been chasing one since the end of last season,"

Atkins sensibly would not name names with regard to the others but they are believed to be attacking players.

His secrecy is understandable as he added "It's been a tough time for us with all the money that's been flying about but we need to stick to a budget."

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