Brigg problems with form at Watnall Road

HUCKNALL Town’s worrying form at Watnall Road reared its ugly head again when they were beaten by a solitary goal against Brigg Town in their third match of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South season last Saturday.

So poorly did Hucknall finish their Premier Division campaign in 2010/11 that they failed to register a single league win at home from November 13.

But two games into the new term and they are still waiting — not only for that elusive victory but also for their first goal in front of their own fans.

Equally disturbing is that, despite a fine, warm day, the crowd for the Brigg clash was as low as 147, which is 80 down on last season’s Watnall Road average.

Now club officials are praying for an improvement on Bank Holiday Monday when Hucknall entertain local-derby rivals, Rainworth Miners Welfare, who are managed by ex-Yellows assistant manager Billy Millar.

Before that, they make the awkward trip to Staffordshire tomorrow (Saturday) to take on Newcastle Town, who were runners-up last season only to miss out on promotion in the play-offs. They are among the favourites for the title this time round but suffered a shock 5-1 defeat at home to Loughborough Dynamo on Tuesday night.

Like Newcastle, Brigg, who are managed by ex-Hull City defender Peter Daniel, reached the promotion play-offs last season. But this was their first victory of the new campaign, earned courtesy of a goal as early as the tenth minute by Liam Dickens.

After a neat attacking move, the ball was played into the area where Dickens pounced on a rebound, as Hucknall failed to clear, and drove into the corner of the net with his left foot.

The goal made up for a frustrating start for Brigg, who were denied a penalty when Laurence Heward appeared to be brought down in the box and then lost midfielder Nicky McNamara, who was taken to hospital with a suspected depressed cheekbone after an accidental clash of heads.

Although Hucknall responded with a shot from Nathan Watson that fizzed wide, the goal seemed to unnerve the home side, who struggled to keep possession. The Zebras remained on top and both Heward and Bruno Holden weren’t far off target with shots.

Yellows manager Tommy Brookbanks hauled off midfielder Matt Baxter and striker Grant Ryan at half-time. And his side duly began the second period well, using the width of the pitch effectively.

Substitute Mahtieu Isamene had a fine header saved, while dangerman Watson was at the heart of most things Hucknall created. He fired in two more shots, one of which was saved by Tom Woodhead, while the other flew wide of the near post with the ‘keeper beaten.

Brigg’s centre-backs Gregg Archer and Leroy Cochrane proved tough nuts to crack. But French winger Isamene continued to look lively and he went closest to an equaliser when seeing a shot cleared off the line and then rattling the bar with a fierce shot from 20 yards.

Midfielder Jared Holmes, making his first start of the new season, also drove a 30-yarder just wide but the game ended in frustration for Hucknall, not to mention the first defeat of their new amateur era.