Jubilant GREEN DRAGON flew the flag for Hucknall in Sunday football’s senior county cup -- as holders T8’S made an unceremonious exit.
T8’s were bundled out of the Notts FA competition in a 4-0 quarter-final defeat against Gedling Inn.
But Dragon soared into the semis by becoming the first team in two seasons to beat highly-rated outfit Kirkby Town.
Although Kirkby are one level below Norma Hatfield’s side in the Notts Sunday Morning League (NSML), they went into the tie as favourites because of their record, which yielded a league title/leaguecup/junior county cup treble last season.
They won all 22 league games in 2012/13 with a goal-difference of plus-174 and actually arrived in Hucknall on the back of a an amazing sequence of 38 wins on the trot in all competitions. Their line-up also included ex-Mansfield Town midfielder Gary Castledine.
However, they were without their prolific top scorer, ex-Hucknall Town man Nathan Watson, who has plundered more than 100 goals for the club.
And Dragon took full advantage to eke out a 2-1 victory, even though they fell behind as early as the 12th minute when Kieran Watson danced into the box and shrugged off a defender to poke a shot past ‘keeper Jamie Taylor.
Two more Kirkby efforts were cleared off the line before the locals were rewarded for some stout defending by grabbing an equaliser two minutes into the second half.
Midfielder Kane Matthews found some space on the right side of the area and delivered a peach of a cross for striker Danny Taylor to flick a header into the net.
The goal gave Dragon the belief they needed and it wasn’t long before they scored what proved to be the winner. This time, Kane Matthews was the scorer, latching on to a beautiful ball from brother Jack Matthews and firing across ‘keeper Steve Boot with his right foot.
From then on, the home team had to soak up plenty of Kirkby pressure. But with no respect for reputation, they held on thanks to total teamwork and another man-of-the-match display by goalie Taylor.
Now they need to translate this form into Premier Premier Division points in the NSML where they have yet to get off the mark.
DRAGON LINE-UP (3-1-5-1) -- Taylor J./ Smith, Neale, Gorewoda/ Sisson/ Bernard, Matthews K., Matthews J. Humphreys, Lewis/ Taylor D. Subs: Clarke, Curtis, Lester.
As for T8’s, they were no match for NSML, Premier Premier Division rivals Gedling Inn -- and duly suffered their fourth league and cup defeat of the season.
Reece Jackson’s champions have been struggling with numbers because of injuries and unavailability, and could field only a bare 11 for the tie.
Jackson himself had to play up front, while his brother, Curtis, made a rare appearance in goal.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle against a Gedling side yet to lose in domestic football this term, and the home team’s superior quality shone through.
Goals from Jack Caulton, Ben Middleton, Callum Moss and Luke Attenborough booked Gedling a deserved ticket to the semis -- alongside Dragon and fellow top-flight outfits, Clumber and Trowsers, who also won their last-eight ties.
T8’S LINE-UP -- Jackson C./ Thomas, Hayes D., Peberday, McDermott, Buckley, Ryan, Bettridge, Davies N., Jackson R., Start A.