‘Teams will raise their game again’

Action from Hucknall Town v Bilborough on Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Hucknall Ram Photography.
Action from Hucknall Town v Bilborough on Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Hucknall Ram Photography.

Hucknall boss Andy Graves says his side will once again be prepared for teams to raise their game against them in the Central Midlands League South this season.

The Yellows are perennially among the favourites to win promotion and have come close to achieving that aim several times as they attempt to climb back up the non-league ladder.

And it’s a pressure Graves says his team have to be able to cope with if they’re to succeed.

He said: “All teams raise their games against us, whether it’s the top sides or those right at the bottom.

“Sometimes those lower down try to frustrate us and it’s a discipline in itself to ensure we don’t get frustrated and cost ourselves dearly in the process.

“It’s a mental thing and sometimes players have to learn to toughen up if things aren’t going as they might be expected to.

“We know our system works so if we’re not winning it’s often down to individuals not doing the basics right or their jobs properly.

“We have identified the areas in which we needed to improve to the point where we can turn potentially crucial defeats into vital wins - signing our one main target up front was key to that.”

Hucknall have just one more friendly remaining when they host Redcar Town, managed by former Yellow Roy Hunter, at Watnall Road on Saturday.

The Yellows beat Bilborough Town 2-1 on Wednesday night to add to an encouraging pre-season schedule so far.

Graves says that he is happy with his squad, particularly the depth he has at his disposal.

He said: “I’ve had no complaints so far. Results aren’t the be all and end all but things have gone well and it’s been good to have a good look at what we’ve got at our disposal.

“We’ve been able to play quite a few guys from the reserve side in the friendlies and they’ve acquitted themselves well and we’ve been winning games too which is good.

“We deliberately planned the schedule to see us play sides right up to Evo-Stik Premier standard as well as step seven sides and I’ve been pleased with how it’s gone.

“For the last friendly on Saturday we’ll have five or six key players missing again for reasons beyond our control but whilst it isn’t ideal, it gives me another chance to look at who might be able to make the step up.

“That might be necessary several times throughout the season if injuries and suspensions play a big part so it’s important to know the quality is there.

“After the Redcar game we’ll then have a week’s gap before the opening match.”

That opening game will away to Mickleover RBL on August 5, with Graves adding: “They’re a side who are difficult to break down on their own patch but I’m confident we can do that.”

Meanwhile, Graves added that the Yellows have a new shirt sponsor thanks to local discount warehouse JTF.

He said: “They’ll sponsor our shirts this season and we’re likely to wait until the first game before we unveil our new kit.

“We’re grateful to JTF for their support.”