The shock of a red card only five minutes into the second half failed to knock HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE off course in their latest Central Midlands League, South Division match.
Rolls were already two goals to the good when Chay Betridge, who plays in their ‘number ten’ role, just behind the strikers, was sent off for raising his hands and pushing an opponent after he was on the receiving end of a high challenge.
But even so, they still impressed all with the intelligent way they got through the next 40 minutes against Derbyshire hosts, Holbrook St Michael’s.
They were content to soak up Holbrook attacks and catch the home side on the break. And they even added another goal for good measure, en route to their second successive 3-0 win.
The match hadn’t started that well in the opening 15 minutes when Holbrook called the tune, while Rolls struggled to retain the ball.
But once they had created their first chance on 18 -- Greg Conn heading against the bar -- Rolls were away, and seven minutes later, they opened the scoring. Captain Conn made space for himself with a neat turn in the area and picked out winger Kane Matthews, who sidefooted home at the far post.
Five minutes later, the lead was doubled as a fine move was finished by a sweet strike from 20 yards by striker Jack Smith, recruited from Basford United in the summer.
Bettridge’s dismissal changed the profile of the match and gave Holbrook hope, which they were keen to seize, forcing several corners.
Howevfr, Rolls defended set-pieces well, apart from one when the home skipper had a free header in the box which he put wide.
Effective on the counter, Rolls could have scored when both Jack Allen and Jack James pulled their shots wide after fine wing play by Conn.
And they might have paid the price for the misses when goalkeeper Jack Walker was forced into a terrific save, tipping over a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area by the home side’s left-winger, who was their best player on the day.
However, Rolls secured the points 12 minutes from the end. Substitute Harry Allen was tripped just outside the box and Kane Matthews stepped up to fire the resulting free-kick into the top corner, leaving the ‘keeper completely flatfooted.
The goal capped a man-of-the-match performance by Matthews, who dazzled going forward but was also disciplined in the defending he had to do after the red card in the second period.
The win lifted Rolls to tenth in the table ahead of a home game with fellow league new boys Harrowby Saints this weekend.