Hucknall boss Graves pleased with point at Eastwood

Hucknall Town FC v Eastwood CFC, Hucknall management team Philip Henry and Andy Graves in the dugout

Hucknall Town FC v Eastwood CFC, Hucknall management team Philip Henry and Andy Graves in the dugout

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Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves was delighted with a point against rivals Eastwood Community on Wednesday night in the CMFL South.

The Yellows took the lead through Matt Cabbage before they were pegged back during a dominant ten-minute spell for fellow title-contenders Eastwood.

Graves admitted it was the toughest test his side have had to endure from an opposing side this season but was pleased with the response shown by his players.

He said: “They’re one of our rivals up there so I was pleased with a point. We’ve got to play them at home, it’ll be a different surface and a different type of game, we’ve still got games in hand and they didn’t go further away from us.”

Third-placed Hucknall reduced the gap to runaway leaders Selston to 15 points and possess six games in hand on the reigning champions, while boast the best goal difference in the league.

“It’ll be tight all the way to the end of the season,” said Graves. “There are four teams in it as far as I’m concerned. There’s still a long way to go and there’ll be plenty of twists and turns.

“We went from fourth to third on Wednesday night but we’ve still got games in hand. It’s very tight up there. I would imagine Eastwood would be more disappointed than us having played more games.

“It took us a bit of time to get used to the surface. We probably had more possession and got ourselves into good positions but the frustrating thing was we failed to shoot when we got the oppurtunity. They would shoot from any angle at any range. They were dangerous. Even when we had possession and we were on top they were dangerous, especially on the counter, because they were prepared to shoot.

“We got ourselves into good positions but we took an extra touch or chose the wrong pass and we gave that opportunity up, so that was frustrating. We took the lead in the second half but then they put us under a lot of pressure.

“For a good ten minutes or so they put us under it, they got a goal back, but during that spell young Keaton pulled off some very good saves. They put us under pressure more so than any other team this season.”

With regular custodian Mike Randal unavailable through work commitments, 17-year-old Keaton Sharp donned the gloves and Elliott Christie made his Hucknall debut.

“Keaton played really well,” said Graves. “He is a goalkeeper so he is there to make stops but he did very well for his age and experience.

“We were also dealt a blow when Dave Leak pulled up in the first half. He’s got a quad injury due to the pitch and we’ll know the full extent of that injury by Friday hopefully.

“I’m not a fan of the 3G pitches. They do suit some teams. If you play on it regularly it will suit you. Playing on it now and again is tough. They used it to their advantage and they played some good football.

“I won’t deny that fact. They played some really good stuff on what is a big pitch. We plugged a lot of the gaps, apart from that ten-minute spell, and showed a bit of resilience which was pleasing.”

Graves will now prepare his side for a trip to Swanwick Pentrich Road this coming Saturday (January 14, 2pm) and the Yellows boss is hopeful the game survives the weather.

“It’s notorious up there for being called off in wet weather,” he said. “We’re hoping it’ll be on and the forecast isn’t as bad as it seems because I can see us going up there for an end of season 6.30pm kick off against a team with no floodlights.

“Unless the league reverse the fixtures when we should be playing at our ground.”

And added: “If it does go ahead, it’ll be a difficult game because we’ll go from one surface that favours a team to a ground that favours a team. It’s very small, it’s like playing five-a-side up there.

“They play on it regularly and they know how to play it. It’ll be a tough test.”