Striker hunt as Smith departs

Hucknall Town manager, Andy Graves.
Hucknall Town manager, Andy Graves.

Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves is on the hunt for a new striker after Shaun Smith left the Yellows this week for Central Midlands rivals Sherwood Colliery.

Front man Smith had scored five in seven for free-scoring Hucknall this season following a summer move from South Normanton where he’d caught Graves’ eye.

Smith bagged 20 goals in 18 league games for the Shiners in a 2016/17 season which saw them finish sixth - two spots and eight points behind the Yellows.

Graves had picked Smith to add quality and goals to his front line this season as Hucknall set their sights on achieving promotion from the CMFL South Division.

But they will have to do it without the services of Smith, who was missing for the Yellows’ 3-0 Floodlit Cup loss to Eastwood Community on Wednesday night.

“We were without Shaun Smith due to his wife having a baby, but he’s left us now,” revealed Graves. “He’s gone to Sherwood which is a bit of a blow, unfortunately.

“I expected it. I know it was a choice between us and them at the beginning of the season. But we can’t compete with the money they’re offering him so good luck to him.

“I looked at him last season and highlighted him as a player but we were getting him without it costing us a load of money. If Sherwood can pay him the money then good luck to him.”

And, on possible replacements, added: “We’ve got some irons in the fire already. We’re not going to panic - there’s no point in panicking. He hadn’t scored for five games and I know some of the fans were giving him a bit of stick as well.

“That doesn’t help when you’re trying to keep players but that’s how it goes with football. He was doing a lot more than scoring but we don’t worry about it and move on.”

Hucknall made changes for the midweek trip to Eastwood - their first game in 11 days following a 3-0 win over Teversal Reserves on October 14th.

Graves said: “We made a few changes but it won’t be the side that play on Saturday. The league is more important to us.

“At this stage last year we’d already beaten Eastwood 5-0 in the Vase like they beat us the other week in the Vase.

“It just shows they’ve done the same to us this time around but it’s the league game which are important to us.

“The game itself was not brilliant. They had four chances and took three, we had some chances but didn’t take any.

“It was just one of those games. It was better than training. It was a run out for one or two that haven’t started for a while.”

Graves and his team’s attentions turn back to league matters for the home match against Hilton Harriers on Saturday in the first of a string of fixtures at Watnall Road.

With league and cups in full flow, five of the next six matches for the Yellows are in front of their own support.

“Hilton have had a reasonable start,” said Graves. “They’ve played a lot of games but we’re confident going into it.

“It’s the first of a few home matches but not many are in the league. We’ve got cups in there and can’t get a run in the league at the moment.”