Boxing Day battering for Yellows

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HUCKNALL Town’s strange season plunged to new depths on Boxing Day as they fell to an 8-1 defeat at home to Rainworth Miners Welfare.

With only 11 players available for selection, including assistant manager Alex Weston, the hosts were up against it from the off and ultimately had no answer to the quality Welfare possessed.

That the winning margin wasn’t well into double figures was due in no small measure to Yellows’ former Cameroon U-21 international goalkeeper Alex Malong, who played out of his skin in a vain bid to keep the scoreline reasonably respectable.

A measure of the problems faced by Hucknall was that at the time the team sheets were due to be submitted to match referee Nigel Murphy they had only ten players available.

But with the agreement of Rainworth they were allowed to include an 11th late arrival, although they were unable to name any substitutes and fielded a side made up of players mainly recruited from clubs in the Central Midlands League.

The game, played largely in atrocious conditions, really belonged to Ian Holmes, whose five-star, five-goal display played a huge part in sealing the points.

Recent new boy Conor Higginson added a couple and Ryan Goward one to complete the rout, while even the one goal credited to Hucknall was a bizarre own goal.

It took less than two minutes for Rainworth, and Ian Holmes, to get off the mark, Holmes receiving from Higginson on the right to slot past the keeper.

Hucknall’s claim for offside appeared to have some merit but the flag stayed down and the goal stood.

Four minutes later it was 2-0, Higginson on hand to finish from close range following Goward’s cross being headed down at the far post by Kieran Walker.

The overworked Malong and his equally harassed defence strove hard to keep Rainworth at bay, the keeper in particular producing a succession of fine saves as Town were pegged back, the best an acrobatic tip over in the 18th minute to deny Jared Holmes.

But it was 3-0 on the half-hour when, as Hucknall struggled to clear, Jared Holmes fed the ball through for namesake Ian to put away.

Town got one back in the 39th minute, courtesy of a weird own goal from Ashley Kitchen, who made a hash of an attempted header back to Alessandro Barcherini in the Wrens’ goal, the ball skidding under the keeper and into the net.

The half-time score of 3-1 could and should have been double, and within seconds of the re-start Higginson burst through only to be bundled over on the edge of the box. Goward’s free-kick was heading for under the bar until Malong managed to tip it over.

But Rainworth were not to be denieda 1-11, and their three-goal cushion was restored in the 55th minute, Ian Holmes completing his hat-trick with a speculative attempt from 25 yards which went in under the angle.

Five more minutes on, it was 5-1. Malong blotted his copybook by making a hash of Kitchen’s cross under pressure from Higginson, allowing Goward to stab the ball home.

New boy Adam Kimberley was introduced in the 64th minute and, within a matter of seconds, Ian Holmes thumped home another great shot from Lee Cooksey’s through pass.

Ian Holmes blazed a glorious chance high and wide, and Malong charged out of his goal to win a race to the ball with Danny Bacon, before the best goal of the match made it 7-1 in the 74th minute.

Higginson sent Bacon clear on the left and Ian Holmes arrived to plant home the cross inside the far post.

Higginson then completed the rout three minutes from time.