Hucknall Town ready for cup semi after beating league champions

ROYAL FLUSH -- Ben Waplington, who scored Town's key second goal against league champions Mickleover Royals.
ROYAL FLUSH -- Ben Waplington, who scored Town's key second goal against league champions Mickleover Royals.

Bring on the cup semi-finals! That was the cry from the HUCKNALL TOWN camp after a magnificent victory over newly-crowned champions, Mickleover Royals, in the Central Midlands League’s South Division.

Town’s league cup semi against fellow top-five outfit, Belper United, has been switched to this coming Saturday when it will be played at the neutral venue of Coronation Park in Eastwood.

And Andy Graves’s men go there in tremendous heart after upsetting the title party that Mickleover had started two days earlier when gaining the point in a 2-2 draw with Blidworth Welfare that sealed their champions’ crown.

They travelled to the Raygar Stadium without key players such as midfielder Leon Aikman, and had to call on a THIRD-choice goalkeeper in Paul Bradbury. But they were applying pressure from the off, forcing the home ‘keeper into two excellent saves, while at the other end, Mickleover’s main threat, ex-Town man Anthony Rowley, was well shackled by Josh Henry, apart from shot he dragged wide.

Showing superb workrate, The Yellows took a deserved lead into half-time when fantastic movement by Cameron Davidson and Adam Nelson opened up the backline, which Niall Thompson exploited to fire a 25-yard strike into the bottom corner.

Mickleover started the second half brightly, but their confidence was soon dented by a second Town goal as Ben Waplington struck a sweet left-footed half-volley from the edge of the box that whizzed into the far corner of the net.

Just when the points looked safe, Town gave the home team a lifeline when Cayne Maxwell was caught needlessly in possession. The resulting cross left Bradbury and Joe Atkinson in two minds, enabling the ball to bounce between them and leaving an easy tap-in for Nash Wilson.

However, Town’s defence stood firm in the final quarter, and they might have snatched a third goal when Aaron Evans’s close-range shot was well saved by Mickleover’s outstanding goalie.

TOWN LINE-UP (4-4-1-1) -- Bradbury/ Henry, Leak, Atkinson, Pitt/ Maxwell, Robinson, Davidson, Waplington/ Thompson/ Nelson. SUBS USED: Gatland, Rigg, Evans.