Happy Yellows are the Real deal in Senior Cup again

KING LEON --  driving midfielder Leon Aikman (right), who scored Hucknall Town's matchwinner.
KING LEON -- driving midfielder Leon Aikman (right), who scored Hucknall Town's matchwinner.
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A goal ten minutes from the end sent happy HUCKNALL TOWN into the Second Round of a Notts FA Senior County Cup competition they once dominated.

The glory days, when Town reached 12 Senior Cup finals in 20 years, may be long gone at Watnall Road.

And as current manager Andy Graves freely admits, the new-look Yellows side are far from the real deal.

But a ‘Real deal’ was no big deal when they took on Central Midlands League, South Division rivals, Real United, in the opening round at Watnall Road last Saturday.

For although they relied in the end on a strike by Aikman for a 1-0 win, they were always the better side, played some fine football and comfortably negotiated the task in hand.

Sitting just below Town in the table, Real are no mugs. They went into the tie on the back of an impressive 3-3 draw with Bulwell, and fielded a side littered with ex-Dunkirk players, plus Yellows old boy Cashel Walters.

But Town were confident after welcoming back two key players -- captain Joe Atkinson, one of their most influential signings of the summer who slotted into the back four, allowing 17-year-old Kieran Davies to return to the reserves, and midfielder Nathan Robinson, who was recalled after a four-week lay-off because of injury.

Robinson helped Town win the midfield battle, alongside Aikman and Junior Harding, and they enjoyed plenty of possession. Indeed Aikman should have given them the lead when getting past Real’s last man, only to shoot wide.

Both wide men, Montell Gatland on the eight and Ben Waplington on the left, had lots of joy, supplying a stream of crosses. And when Waplington got on the end of one delivery from Gatland, he blazed over, trying to volley spectacularly when he had time to show some composure.

The Yellows also had a penalty shout for handball turned down, and then striker Adam Nelson squandered a one-on-one when the ball got under his feet.

However, Town continued to boss the game in the second period and after Aikman had hit the bar, he finally popped up with the winning goal. Drifting across the right-hand edge of the area, the talented midfielder lined up a peach of a sbot that flew into the top corner.

Real responded with a spell of late pressure, but Yellows ‘keeper James Beddingham and his defence stood firm.

The result means Graves’s side are just one more win away from joining the elite ten clubs in the county in the Third Round (last 16) of the prestigious competition.