VERWOOD Town have pulled off a late transfer coup by snapping up vastly-experienced frontman Matt Groves ahead of tomorrow’s eagerly-anticipated derby with Christchurch (7.45pm).
The 34-year-old achieved legendary status with 151 goals in 442 matches for Dorchester before joining Weymouth where he became player/assistant-manager under Brendon King.
He finished the campaign playing for Southern League Premier Division outfit Frome.
Verwood boss Carl Poore told the Daily Echo: “Matt’s a good friend of mine from the local area and just wants to play football.
"He has a lot of family commitments at the moments and was keen to just get signed up somewhere and enjoy some game time for now.
“With us having a young squad, he could make a big difference. He has been there and done it, scoring a lot of goals at a much higher level and that experience will be a massive help.”
Groves will be joined by dual-registered Poole Town trio Josh Buck, Morgan Turner and Brad Goddard, who all come into contention as Poore prepares for a master-versus-apprentice showdown with predecessor and new Priory manager Adie Arnold.
Poore added: “I think it’s a great fixture and with Adie coming back there’s that extra bit about it.
"Some of our lads might be out to prove a point but we will prepare them in the same way as we would for any other game.”
Arnold was keen to play down the return to his old stomping ground, focusing instead on his early selection headache.
Experienced trio Mark Smith, Dan Steer and Gareth Barnes all miss out because of suspensions carried over from last season, forcing the new Hurn Bridge boss to blood youngsters.
“It’s not an ideal first game,” admitted Arnold.
“I would have preferred a bit more time to settle the side. I am looking forward to going back, even if it is a bit sooner than expected. Whatever happens, the result will not make or break me or Carl.
“Of course there is a lot of personal pride involved but the bigger picture is about what happens over the course of an important season of building for both clubs.
“It will be tricky without the senior lads but that’s what we’re faced with and we’ll be relying on our youngsters to make a bright, confident start.”
Priory: (from) Bray, Kelly, Dodd, Clark, Vining, Haskell, Proudley, Wilkinson, Leonard, Lovell, Hill, Saxby, Owen, Hampton-Brown, Speers.
Potters: (from) Lynch, Evans, Dent, Cormack, Elysee, Dyer, Gajic, Foster, Buck, Turner, Groves, Molyneaux, Whelan, Cousins, Rutten, Anderton, Read, Goddard, Collins.