Yellows ready for Vase battle

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

Hucknall Town will be up against familiar foes on Saturday as they play in the second qualifying round of the FA Vase.

The Yellows will welcome local rivals Eastwood Community to Watnall Road having been regular opponents of Dave Marlow’s men in the last 12 months.

Meetings last season in the league (twice), the League Cup and again in the FA Vase were followed by a truncated encounter earlier this season when the match was abandoned in its early stages, meaning Town boss Andy Graves knows well what to expect from Saturday’s game.

He said: “It’s strange how we keep getting drawn with them in the cups but we’re familiar with them now and know what to expect.

“They’ve changed manager in the summer but their style has remained much the same so we’ll be prepared as always.

“They’re doing well and are in good form. I watched them against Blidworth last week and they won that game but in cup games anything can happen so we’ll go into it in confident mood.”

Morale remains high for Hucknall following another convincing win in the league last weekend, a 6-0 thrashing of Keyworth United making it four wins out of four in the Central Midlands League South so far.

And although another comfortable win gave the impression Hucknall might be finding things a little easy this year, Graves was quick to emphasise that’s far from the case.

He said: “People know by now that even after a big win I’m never completely happy!

“We had a really good first-half and went in 4-0 up but then in the second-half I felt we were a bit sloppy and it took us until right to the end when we got the last two goals.

“It might sound harsh to be critical, but it’s really important we don’t pick up bad habits and instead focus on maintaining the good ones as they are what will win us games and potentially promotion.”

Following the Eastwood game, Hucknall have a clear midweek before then travelling to likely fellow title contenders Sherwood Colliery on September 30 - a match put back ten days having initially been due to take place between the Keyworth and Eastwood games.

Graves said: “The big games will keep coming thick and fast but I’m confident we have a big enough squad this year to make changes if needed.

“We had young Ben Jones come in to play at the back for us last week and he ended up being man of the match so I’m far from afraid to use the youngsters if needed.

“We’ve got one or two missing this weekend but have able replacements, and the ability to keep a competitive side throughout the season when it comes to who is in the team will hopefully keep everyone on their toes.”