Football: Rutter proves he has class to make higher grade
THREE goals in as many games have given Paul Rutter a flying start to his Leek Town career.
The former Norton striker has moved up the pecking order to grab a Blues shirt and has made the most of his chance.
"This is the highest level of football I have played at but, having watched Leek a few times, I felt I could make the step up," said Rutter, who has also played for Nantwich Town in their North West Counties League days, Alsager Town and Leek CSOB.
Yet 25-year-old Rutter, pictured right, admits he was "a little surprised" when Leek boss Wayne Johnson came knocking at his door.
He said: "I played a pre-season game for Leek, but questioned whether I could commit myself to the demands of playing UniBond League football.
"I went back to play for Norton, but in September I chipped a bone in my ankle that kept me out for 13 weeks.
"I had only played a couple of games in my comeback, so was hardly fit when Wayne came in for me again.
"I wanted to push myself by going to Leek. It was a bit of a challenge and I wanted to give it a go, even though the demands on fitness are greater.
"The skill levels are higher, but I have to work hard and keep scoring to keep my place."
Rutter's goals have helped Leek earn four points out of six, but failed to save them from defeat by Curzon Ashton in the UniBond League Cup.
And Rutter accepts he should have had at least one more goal but for the miss that, he says, gave him sleepless nights.
Having given Leek the lead on his full debut against Market Drayton, Rutter spooned a close-range effort over the bar when it looked easier to score.
"The lads have not let me forget it," he says.
Rutter, who teaches PE at Holden Lane High School, is in competition for front-line places with Danny Cope, Dean Crowe and Leon Ashman now that Paul McMahon has dropped out of the equation.
And Johnson proved at Goole only last week that reputations count for nothing as recent signing Crowe, Ashman and Ashley Miller were benched.
Leek meet Carlton Town at Harrison Park tomorrow and their squad will include young Port Vale striker Anthony Malbon, who has signed on work experience for three games.
Malbon, from Sneyd Green, was Vale's youth team player-of-the-year last season when he scored 20 goals.
He was recommended to Leek by both Vale's former Leek defender Adam Yates and youth coach Mick Ede.
KIDSGROVE: The club are on the trail of former Stoke City youngster Geoff McGaw.
The former Irish under-19 international, who played for Alsager Town and Biddulph Vics on being released by Stoke, is currently with Buxton in the UniBond Premier Division, but is not getting a regular game.
Kidsgrove manager Peter Ward said: "Geoff has played a few games for Buxton, but is in and out of the side when he needs to be playing regularly.
"He is locally based, but is having to travel to Doncaster because that is where Buxton train.
"Geoff has an agent who seems to be in favour of him playing for us, but we cannot talk money!"
McGaw is a left-sided player who scored four goals for Vics last season and, with Ricky Bridge still recovering from surgery, Grove have no other naturally left-footed players.
Meanwhile, Grove have apologised to supporters of both sides who turned up for Tuesday's derby with Leek Town.
The game was given the go ahead in the afternoon, but continuous rain thereafter made the pitch waterlogged by the time the match referee arrived.
The game, previously postponed on Boxing Day, has been rearranged for March 2.
Kidsgrove travel to Belper tomorrow aiming to end a run of three successive defeats without as much as a goal.