Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves was upset by a ‘rush of blood’ free kick conceded near the end of Sunday’s Central Midlands League Cup final that paved the way for rivals Selston to snatch the trophy at the death.
A tight game at Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena had reached the 87th minute before Selston struck the opener, adding a second in stoppage time to seal a 2-0 win and CML double.
“It was a tight game until three minutes from the end where we had a bit of a rush of blood and gave away a needless free kick in a dangerous position,” said Graves.
“I think they’d had one shot in the second half, and that wasn’t even on target. We had dominated the second half.
“It was a very even first half in which we both hit the post and had a couple of half-chances.
“In the second half we were more threatening, but the ball wouldn’t fall for us in the box and we had one shot from Joe Ashurst that dipped just over and landed on top of the net.
“We were pressing more, though had nothing clear cut. Then, as happens when you don’t make your possession tell, we gave away a stupid free kick which I’d told them not to do before the game and at half-time.”
He added: “I said no needless free kicks as that’s where they were going to get into it from a set piece. We had two men covering the man with the ball then another came in and bundled him over. Probably adrenalin got the better of him.
“We didn’t defend the free kick well, left a man at the back post that we’d been picking up most of the game and he had a free chance to sidefoot it into the net which was disappointing.
“Then obviously we had three minutes and a bit of added time to chase the game and got caught on the break from pressing for the equaliser.
“But, hey ho, it was always going to be a tight game.”
Once again Graves felt his side didn’t play to their capabilities against season-long rivals Selston.
He also said the fact their league season had finished two weeks earlier, unlike Selston, didn’t help their cause.
“I felt three or four didn’t perform which frustrates me as we thought they were the players who would do the job and maybe they took somebody else’s shirt and just didn’t perform for whatever reason, the occasion or whatever,” he said.
“In am not sure the two week break was any help to be honest as we were on a bit of roll and had momentum as they were with still playing.
“We still should have had more than enough and we had more than enough possession to have done more with it.
“We move on. Worse things happen in life.
“We already have pre-season sorted for next season and I am talking to four players I want to bring in. We will have another go next season.”
Overall Graves was pleased that the club had progressed once again during the season.
“I am sure there are a lot of clubs that would like to swap places with us. We still have to have that reality check,” he said.
“We are trying to progress as quickly as we possibly can.
“This season has not been a backwards step. The football has still gone forward. We have progressed as the stats prove.
“But, as I have said many times, we will only be judged on getting out of this league which will be tough again next year.”