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Story posted: Friday, 13th January 1989

Acklam is the goalden shot!
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Paul Acklam could easily have become the man the Moat Ground forgot.
The Long Eaton based front-runner whose current strike spree runs to an astonishing 22 goals in 17 games – including five in the last three – seemed destined for a career in higher spheres when he quit South Derbyshire for Beazer Homes Premier outfit Shepshed Charterhouse last season after being banished to Rovers’ reserves.

But in an inspired move Moat boss Frank Northwood brought Acklam back into the fold as part of a switch from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 earlier this season and the ploy has paid off handsomely in both goals and Banks’s League points.

Now Gresley’s golden goal-grabber admits: “This is my best ever season so far.”

But he refuses to take more than an 11th share of the credit for Rovers’ march to the top of the table, pointing out: “We’re creating so many chances that it’s been easy for me – and a lot of other people are scoring goals too.

“I was playing as an out-and-out centre forward in a 4-4-2 formation during my previous spell at the club and I didn’t really fit in. I lost my place in the side when the offer came from Shepshed I took it – although I think I would have made the move anyway because they were playing a much higher standard of football.

“I had a tremendous time there but in the end I was playing out of position – the manager had me playing on the left side of midfield and I can’t even kick with my left foot!”

So when Northwood opened the Moat Ground gates for a return to South Derbyshire Acklam was quick to grasp the opportunity – even though it meant picking up a parking ticket while he was putting pen to paper at the ground!

But that was the 27-year-old motor mechanic’s only slice of bad luck so far since rejoining the club he believes can steer a course into the Beazer Midland Division next season.

“Things have gone really well since then. I had a couple of bad games early on but when things are going well for you – like they are for me at the moment – the ball just keeps hitting the back of the net. My first goal at Chasetown on Saturday came when the ball hit my ear and then my arm before going in. But when you score goals like that it gives you the confidence to have a go from anywhere and I was well pleased with my second goal when I lobbed the keeper.

“I suppose the goals will dry up eventually because every striker goes through lean spells but I’m happy at the moment. Last season I felt under pressure because everybody kept saying that Brian Beresford should be in the side instead of me.

“But this season we’ve changed our style and having a player like Graham Jones in the side is a tremendous help. I’m not a target man and having someone like Jonah around makes such a difference. It might seem selfish, but if I can have a free role up front I’m happiest.

“The team spirit is so much better than it was too. Last season the players would all sit round in little groups after a game but this year we’re all mates together.

“There’s plenty of goals in the side so there’s no pressure on any one player to score – even midfield players like Andy Moore have got about 10 or 11. There’s a lot of movement in the side and when things are going well you don’t mind sitting in midfield for a bit or covering for a full back.

“Having a successful reserves side helps too because it means you can bring in players like Dave Wells like we did at Chasetown – and he certainly didn’t let us down. If we fail to win the title this time it’ll be because of some of the silly points we dropped earlier in the season but with all the top sides to play our destiny is in our own hands.”

So far Acklam has only one championship medal in his trophy cabinet – from the Northern Counties East League where he had a successful spell with Borrowash Victoria, hitting 110 goals in four seasons.

But he says: “I’ve a feeling I could be on my way to picking up a second title medal. And there’s no reason why we can’t do really well if we win promotion to the Beazer Midland next season.”
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Marske United 38 16 58
11 Stamford AFC 38 -2 50
12 Frickley Athletic 38 -6 48
13 Stocksbridge Park Steels 38 -29 43
14 Lincoln United 38 -30 43
15 AFC Mansfield 38 -18 42
16 Pickering Town 38 -27 35
17 Wisbech Town 38 -27 31
18 Spalding United 38 -29 31
19 Carlton Town 38 -38 27
20 Gresley 38 -54 25

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