Yellows ready to return to action

Andy Graves
Andy Graves

Andy Graves says it has been a frustrating wait for action at Hucknall Town thanks to the enforced festive break, but that his side are now raring to go in 2017.

The Yellows last played a competitive game on December 17 in a 2-1 defeat to league leaders Selston.

And as they prepare to visit Teversal Reserves on Saturday and then fellow promotion hopefuls Eastwood Community next Tuesday, Graves says he wants his side to hit the ground running.

He said: “It’s been strange not having games given the big gap that could have been filled by fixtures, but it’s been the same for everyone else and with only 15 teams in the division this year I guess there are fewer fixtures to plan in, although I hope the league don’t regret it if any backlogs occur later on.

“We’ve had some behind-closed-doors games and intra-squad friendlies to try and give everyone some game time ahead of the weekend and in fairness everyone is looking in decent shape.”

Saturday’s opponents Teversal are second from bottom but Graves doesn’t have to look too far to see that his players can’t afford to take their opponents for granted.

Back in October, the Yellows suffered their first defeat of the season to bottom-of-the-table Holbrook St Michaels, a side who have lost 13 of their 15 games so far.

Graves said: “We’ve found out the hard way before that you cannot turn up and just expect to win any game.

“It’s the kind of division where anyone can beat anyone else on their day and it nvever surprises me when teams get turned over by sides lower down.

“Selston were well beaten by Swanwick just after Christmas and not many people will have seen that coming, so we have to go and do a professional job at Teversal and come back with the points.”

Tuesday’s opponents Eastwood currently sit second, five points behind Selston and with two games in hand.

Their 3G surface at Coronation Park isn’t to everyone’s liking, including Graves, but he is hopeful his players will adapt quickly.

He said: “I’ve played and coached on those surfaces a few times and they’re OK in that sense but from a footballing point of view I’m not the biggest fan.

“I can see the benefit to home teams who perhaps want to lose fewer games but I’ve also seen quite a few players pick up injuries related to the pitches too.

“Obviously when it comes to the weather they’re not affected by rain or frost, although if we’re under six feet of snow at any point they wouldn’t be much use then.

“However, we’re training on that pitch for an hour on Thursday night so we’ll have had a chance to get a feel for it and then hopefully next week we’ll adapt quickly.

“It’s very much a six-pointer, even though it’s only January, given where they are in the table and because they’ve played five more games than we have.

“It’s always important to take points off the teams around you and with Selston having lost the other day we have a real chance to catch up on the top sides as we make our games in hand up.”

After the Eastwood game, Hucknall are on the road once again as they travel to Swanwick Pentrich Road on January 14 before finally returning home a week later to face Keyworth United at Watnall Road in another league fixture.