It has been a week of mourning for Hucknall Town Football Club after the death of their popular former president, ex-MP Andy Stewart.
But on the field, Town continue to make pleasing progress, which was underlined by a fine 1-0 victory over Real United in their latest Central Midlands League, South Division match at Watnall Road.
As well as the club’s president for 16 years between 1987 and 2003, Stewart was also an enthusiastic supporter of The Yellows and would watch games whenever he could.
Little pleased him more than a rousing performance on a social visit to Watnall Road, so he would have very much approved of last Saturday’s showing by Andy Graves’s young side.
Beforehand, Graves had identified the game as an accurate barometer of Town’s development. And afterwards, he said he had been delighted “by a very good performance, full of neat, fluent football, that was appreciated by another large crowd”.
The scoreline did not do justice to the display, which was achieved with only ten men for the last quarter of an hour because of injuries sustained after using all three substitutes.
From the off, Town refused to allow real any kind of foothold in the match. They forced the visiting ‘keeper into several saves.
All that was lacking was a cutting edge and a bit more care in the final third. And the only negative was an injury to Tom Crisp, who had to go off as early as the 15th minute, forcing Jeremy Moran to switch to left-back (which he did brilliantly) and the nearly fit-again substitute Tristan Spencer into midfield.
The second half opened with more good build-up play from The Yellows. Eugene Francis and John Whetton posed problems on the flanks, while Mark Smith ran midfield alongside man-of-the-match Sam Sims.
The breakthrough finally came on the hour when a superb ball from Whetton was held up by striker Joe Lomax. When Lomax fed Smith, the midfielder skipped round three players before placing a shot in the far corner of the net.
To their credit, Real fought back and pushed on three or four men at times in their search for an equaliser.
However, Town were happy and confident to defend in depth before breaking, and they always looked likely to extend their lead.
They were reduced to ten men when Montell Gatland pulled up sharply and had to be helped off, moments after Smith and Whetton had been withdrawn as precautions.
But they still went closel to another goal as Moran intercepted the ball on the edge of his own area and charged forward, only to shoot wide after rounding the ‘keeper.
IN memory of Andy Stewart, Yellows players will observe two minutes’ silence before their next home game, which is the FA Vase, First Round Proper tie against Northamptonshire outfit Desborough Town on Saturday 19th October.
Commented the club’s acting chief executive Liz Morley: “Andy was a true fan and friend of the club. He has been a huge source of support for us over the past two difficult years.
“His help and his presence at Watnall Road will be very sadly missed, but never forgotten.
“We offer our sincere condolences to his family.”