Hucknall Town promotion race goes to the wire

Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves
Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves
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Hucknall Town go into their final Central Midlands League South game at Blidworth on Saturday knowing they must win it to keep their promotion dream alive.

With Selston already crowned champions, it is all down to the final games with Hucknall two points behind Belper United, who occupy the second and final promotion spot and playing their last game at Blidworth Welfare on Saturday.

Should Hucknall win then Belper would have to win their final game at Swanwick Pentrich Road on Tuesday.

If Hucknall win but Belper then draw, second spot would go down to goal difference.

“It has been a bit of roller-coaster all season as I said it would be,” said Hucknall boss Andy Graves.

“Now, basically, we have got to win – it’s as simple as that. If we do then Belper need to win on Tuesday.

“If they only draw after we win, we have a better goal difference and they would have to smash five or six past Swanwick on Tuesday, depending on our scoreline on Saturday.”

Football can often be about ‘what ifs’ and Graves said his side were definitely due some luck.

“It is a pretty exciting finish, but we could have been up by now,” he said.

“If you look back on that run (four successive defeats) in January, we had so many players suspended or unavailable for one reason or another.

“You also look back on some of the games when decisions have gone against us that have been so costly.

“There was the red card at Rolls Royce which saw them also score from the free kick. After that the FA threw it out and didn’t suspend the player as they said the referee had got it wrong.

“At Selston we thought we’d scored a perfectly good goal, but only one person in the ground thought not and that was the referee.

“I have said if we do get some luck it will be of Lottery proportions. You never know, maybe that will be Saturday?”

All Hucknall can do now is concentrate on what is in their hands and beat Blidworth to make it five wins on the trot to end the season.

“I told them we had five cup finals ahead of us and we have won four of them,” said Graves.

“We hope we can win the fifth on Saturday, though Blidworth are a good side and it won’t be easy.

“We have taken each of the five games individually and it has been hard as every team wants to beat us. Sherwood played a very strong side last weekend, much stronger than their previous game.

“All we can do now is the job ahead of us on Saturday and then see what happens on Tuesday as we will have no more games left.

“We’d like to have clinched promotion ourselves. It’s not ideal, but that how football sometimes pans out.

“But, whatever happens, it’s been a good season. Ironically if we had finished the season on 28 games like last season we would have been a comfortable second and been promoted already.

“But there are more teams in there this year and the division is more competitive than last year. Those extra games have changed things round a bit.”