Hucknall Town will this weekend get back to the nitty gritty of trying to win the Central Midlands League South title after their FA Vase adventure came to a battling end.
A last minute Grant Allott goal sent local rivals AFC Mansfield, from two steps higher, through 2-1 into the last 16 in Saturday’s pulsating tie.
But, with that run leaving them with six games on hand on some rivals, Hucknall boss Andy Graves said his side could now concentrate on their main missions, starting away at rivals South Normanton this Saturday.
“It was a cruel way to go out in the 90th minute,” said Graves.
“To be fair it was a needless free kick we gave away. We defended that, but from the resulting corner there was a melee in the box. “We tried to clear it, it ricocheted off the back of one of our lads and it just fell very kindly on the line to their big centre half to toe-poke it over.
“It was all about Lady Luck. We had a few chances at 0-0, but it was a cup game and I think Lady Luck shone on them.
“Never mind. We enjoyed it while it lasted and we didn’t let ourselves down. We definitely proved there was no big difference and we can compete.
“But the Vase wasn’t our main objective. It was more important for them than us.
“Our priority is the league, the Vase was a bonus so we are back to what we are all about now and what the whole season has been about.”
Graves admitted the Vase exit may prove to be a good thing in the long run.
He said: “If we’d have won, we’d have played again on the 7th which would have meant another game would have needed to be re-arranged. So it might be a blessing in one respect.”
Now Hucknall, in fifth place, travel to face a South Normanton side in third, four points ahead of them but Hucknall with more than enough games in hand to fly past them.
“I think they have played five or six games more than us, but they are above us,” said Graves.
“We have got to start eating back into the teams above us, especially when we play against them, if we can take the points off them the games in hand will come in even more useful. It makes life a lot easier.
“Then we have (leaders) Selston the weekend after which will be even more interesting.”
The League Cup draw has also thrown up a fascinating tie with Hucknall drawn away to second-placed Eastwood Community on Saturday, 11th February.
“That is an exciting draw with the history between the two clubs over the years, even though they are called Eastwood Community now,” said Graves. “To all intents and purposes it is still Eastwood Town.
“They will be looking to get one back over us I imagine as we knocked them out the Vase, likewise we’ll be wanting to get one back over on them as they knocked us out of the cup when we were holders last year.
“This year they are the holders so hopefully we can pay them back.”