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Story posted: Thursday, 23rd December 2004

Early Christmas present for Rovers
Prolific striker Chris Freestone has given Gresley Rovers manager Gary Norton an early Christmas present by signing for the club after being released from Ilkeston Town.
Freestone has struggled to hold down a regular place at the New Manor ground this term due to the form of Nigel Jemson and Stuart Copnell. The recent arrival of Mick Goddard from Alfreton Town would have made it even more difficult for him for feature regularly. Freestone, 32, found the net 18 times for Ilkeston last term where he was a team mate with Rovers current top scorer Aaron O'Connor and recent signing Mark Laws.

Manager Gary Norton was understandably delighted with the latest acquisition to his squad. He said: "Getting Chris at this stage was certainly unexpected. We have been interested in him for some time and Alan Titterton spoke to him at length on our behalf in the close season. He said he was staying at Ilkeston but if the situation changed then he would let us know and indeed, true to his word, Alan received a phone call from Chris saying he'd been released. We didn't waste any time in completing the deal. There were 3 other clubs in the frame, two from this level and another from the division above so we are delighted that Chris opted to join us."

"For the first time this season we have numerous options upfront. We have just brought in David Holmes for a month and have Justin Rowe very near fitness after his hamstring problems but when a player like Chris comes available you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Holmesy is only here for 3 more weeks but gives us options elsewhere, not just up front whilst we have been waiting for Justin's return for some time without success. Having the options we do now means that we don't need to rush Justin back and can afford to either give him a few games in the Reserves or out on loan when the time is right."

"We have built our season so far on our defensive displays conceding just 13 goals in 19 games. Goal scoring has been a problem all season and its been well documented that we have been looking for a frontman with experience, quality and a proven goal scoring record at this level. Although our search has taken longer than we would have liked we have at last got someone to match our criteria. It's now down the Chris to prove us right and I'm sure he will be working hard to do that. His registration has been completed in time for him to be available for selection for our Holiday games against Shepshed. "

Freestone is the third ex-Robin to join Gresley and he couldn't hide his delight in the move to the Moat Ground. On his move, he commented: "I'm really looking forward to the challenge at Gresley and joining up with Arron and Lawsy again, They are both cracking players and I really enjoyed playing with them both. I was last season's top scorer and player of the year but seemed to be out of favour this year. There's only Mark Lever and myself who weren't Phil Stant's signings so I don't know if he wanted me out to justify his signings, who knows. I was sent out on loan to Ossett Town in the Prem and I really enjoyed it there and scored a few goals but got called back early after Phil had a bust up with Jemson. I thought I did OK and then was told that I wasn't fit enough. It's been a frustrating season so far but now I'm looking forward to things again and cant wait for the challenge in helping Gresley Rovers in their promotion bid. I just want to get my head down and work as hard as I can for Gresley and who knows what could happen. If I get the service then I'm confident that the goals will come. I had the choice of a few clubs but joined Gresley because of the position they are in and the fact that they seem a pretty good club. They have a young ambitious manager and the ambition of the whole club appealed to me."

The news of Freestone signing has made up for the Moat boss's disappointment at the news that Burton midfielder Laurie Wilson will after all, not be making the short trip across the Trent on loan. Norton said: "I spoke with Nigel (Clough) yesterday and for the time being they want Laurie to remain at Burton. There may be a chance we can bring him in for a month in the future but for now he will stay and fight for a shirt at Burton."
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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