Evo-Stik NPL First Division North champions AFC Fylde have signed highly-rated goalkeeper BenHinchcliffe from Northwich Victoria, beating off interest from a number of clubs higher up the pyramid to clinch his signature.
The much sought after 23-year-old stopper agreeing a contract with the Coasters this week.
Hinchcliffe kept sixteen clean sheets in forty-two games for Vics last season as they pushed for promotion to the Blue Square Bet North and established himself as number one.
Hinchcliffe started out on the books at Preston North End before a spells at Tranmere Rovers, Derby County and Oxford United and Worcester City before joining Bamber Bridge where his displays attracted attention of a number of clubs last summer.
The keeper is Dave Challinor’s first close season signing and he is looking forward to joining the squad, who are hungry for more success next season in the NPL Premier Division.
Challinor is delighted bring in Hinchcliffe and revealed what his qualities are: “I am delighted to have secured the services of Ben Hinchliffe from Northwich. This is the first move in strengthening our squad for the coming season and despite him getting bigger offers from clubs higher in the non-League Pyramid he has seen what we are trying to achieve as a club and is keen to join us. This move fits in with our philosophy of getting players from higher divisions that can take us forward and be an integral part of our journey. Ben is a fantastic goalkeeper who has the ability to play a lot higher. He was linked with the club before we arrived and we are delighted to finally get him. He is a big presence, an organiser, his distribution is second to none and he'll be a great asset to us moving forward. The opportunity to get him on board was too good to pass up on.”
New Clitheroe manager Paul Moore has been busy since being handed the reins at the Evo-Stik NPL First Division North club.
Moore has already brought in five players with just one so far leaving.
Moore said: “Zack Hibbert has decided to leave the club, and wants to express his thanks for all the support he received from the club`s Board and supporters and wishes the club the best for the future.
“I`m sure we all wish Zack all the best at his new club. I have secured the services of five new players to give us some steal, craft and pace. Anthony Daniels has been here before, and is a battling, hard-working midfielder. Francis Smith, once on Liverpool's books, has played at Leigh RMI in the Conference and Southport and is a ball-playing midfielder. Jordan Williams is a strong, fast forward, and Fariah Jackson is an ex-England Futsal goalkeeper who numbers Marine and Colwyn Bay amongst his previous clubs. Stewart Wright is a very quick winger with loads of skill and a quality end product. I have spoken to all the squad from last season now, along with our new additions and a few more, the squad is taking shape for the new campaign.”
Lancaster City midfielder Alex Kenyon is set to join Blue Square Bet Premier side Stockport County and becomes the third Lancaster City player to turn pro in three years after Jordan Connerton and Danny Hattersley.
The Myerscough College student, who took over as Dolly Blues captain from Neil Marshall at the end of January, joins up with fellow former Giant Axe favourite Danny Hattersley, who moved to Edgeley Park in March.
The 19-year-old, who has scored eight goals from the middle of the park for City this season, said: “It feels great to be in a position where I’m set to sign for Stockport County. I’m so excited to have a chance of beginning my career as a professional with the club and just can’t wait to get started.
“I’ve loved playing for Lancaster City for the past three years. It’s a fantastic club with passionate fans who I want to thank for all their support.”
Myerscough College’s Football Development Centre Manager and recently departed City assistant boss Phil Brown said: “Throughout his time at Myerscough College Alex has worked extremely hard, displaying a professionalism and commitment from the onset and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity. Alex has a hunger for the game and this can be seen in how he plays. He is strong, powerful and has excellent game understanding as well as a good eye for a goal. I am thrilled that he is set to sign a professional contract, it was a pleasure to be part of his development and we wish him all the best for the future.”
Kenyon left a message of thanks to all at Lancaster City via twitter: "Would just like to thank everyone Lancaster City FC for their help and support over the last 3 years! Looking forward to this year!"
Brian Pritchard says he knows already which players can make his side stronger next season.
However, the Witton manager reassured supporters that there will be no revolution to Albion’s squad upon their return to the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division.
“I have a list of names that I believe will make this team better,” he said. “That does not mean that I want to make a load of changes as a result of us being promoted. On the contrary, I think this group is good enough to compete at the level above.”
Pritchard told the Northwich Guardian that none of the players that helped Witton to play-offs success have indicated that they wish to leave the Help for Heroes Stadium.
He plans to meet again this week with those he wishes to offer a contract.
“I’m sticking largely with what I have but not out of loyalty or because they deserve a chance to play in the Premier Division,” he added. "It’s more simple than that; they’ve proved already in cup ties last season that they can cope against opponents from that level, so there’s no need to change too much. “We’re looking to bring people to the club who can fit into the team that is here. The strength of this squad is its adaptability, which allowed us to use a smaller group than most of our rivals. We were also lucky with injuries and our disciplinary record meant we suffered few suspensions. What I need to do is make a few smart additions that enhance what we have. That means striking a fine balance between trying not to stand still while keeping the consistency of selection that served us so well this time around.”
Pritchard is confident that key figures such as 39-goals top scorer Alex Titchiner and captain Anthony Sheehan, along with defensive duo Ben Harrison and Mathew Wood, will stay in Northwich.