Town’s loss is Coasters’ gain

Dave Challinor with new signing Matty Hughes

Dave Challinor with new signing Matty Hughes

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AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor is surprised Fleetwood Town didn’t give Matty Hughes the chance to prove himself, insisting Graham Alexander’s loss is his gain after signing the striker on a two-year deal.

Hughes, 23 next month, was brought to Highbury in January last year, having impressed in non-league with Skelmersdale United.

He captained Town in a pre-season friendly against his former club but made only six League One appearances, spending lengthy spells on loan with Conference side Chester.

Hughes is understood to have attracted interest from a number of Football League anc Conference clubs, and Challinor is delighted to have got his man.

He said: “As soon as I heard of his release from Fleetwood he was immediately on my radar.

“I was a little surprised, given Fleetwood’s change in philosophy to focus on bringing younger players in, that Matty wasn’t given an opportunity but that’s massively to our benefit.”

Hughes’ links to the Fylde coast were crucial to the Coasters securing his services.

Challinor continued: “Sometimes circumstances help get deals over the line, and with Matty being local, his partner expecting their first child soon and him wanting to be settled somewhere with the potential to progress, it all fell into place.”

And with the former Everton youth player impressing a level up from Fylde with Chester, Challinor is expecting him to add firepower to the already free-scoring Conference North side.

“He’ll undoubtedly bring even more quality to a side that scored the most goals in our division last season,” added the Coasters boss.

“He’s young, quick, has great ability to go past players and can finish. Most importantly for me, though, he’s a winner and he plays with that will and desire.

“To get him to the club for two years with an option for a third is fantastic.”

Hughes arrived at Highbury as a midfielder but was moved into an attacking role after Town boss Graham Alexander spotted his potential