CARL Macauley was reluctant to dwell on Greg Hall’s departure last weekend and instantly started to search for a replacement.

The goalkeeper’s move to Nantwich Town, a rival for Witton Albion in the Northern Premier League, was confirmed on Sunday.

“We made a list straightaway,” said Macauley.

“As soon as we knew he was going, that work started.

“The timing is bad though because lots of lads are fixed up already, and that’s going to be a challenge for us.”

The Guardian understands that Ryan Neild, who finished last season as Hall's understudy, has been invited to pre-season training when it starts next week.

A second trialist should join him.

Macauley and Gary Martindale, his number two, also spoke to another target on Tuesday night.

“We’ll try not to rush into something,” added the Albion boss.

“At the same time, it’s a position on the field where you want to be decisive and know who you’re first choice is before the start of the season.”

Macauley has not hidden his frustration at how Hall, who is the second player to leave Wincham Park for the Dabbers this summer after full-back Matty Devine, handled his exit.

Albion announced at the start of May that the 33-year-old had agreed terms for a second season with them.

That offer was then improved, and included a contract, once the manager became aware a rival club wanted to recruit a man Witton’s supporters voted as their player of the year.

“Greg still hasn’t phoned to tell me of his decision,” said Macauley.

"I can accept players leaving because that's what happens in football, but it's how you go about it.”

Albion’s version of events is that the former 1874 Northwich number one was due to meet Mike Harper at Moss Farm last Thursday to sign paperwork that would secure his future with them.

The secretary made a trip from his home in Bromborough but Hall didn’t show, instead sending a message to say he was unwell.

A second attempt, less than 48 hours later, never reached the stage of a time and place being agreed.

Witton then confirmed on Saturday afternoon they would be on the lookout for a new goalkeeper.

Macauley said: “I’m gutted at the way it’s happened.

“If anybody asks me, I’ll tell them how well Greg did for us as a goalkeeper; he takes pressure off the back four with the way he comes for crosses, and is a great shot-stopper.

“But this does his reputation no good.”

Hall, part of a defence that kept the most clean-sheets in the Premier Division last term, will now play against Witton next term with the Cheshire rivals due to meet each other in the Premier Division.

“Leaving Witton was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” said Hall in remarks attributed to him as part of an interview on the Dabbers' official website.

"But the fans here can expect 100 per cent commitment from me.

"I just want to be myself and set a good example on and off the pitch.”