Cut-and-thrust victory over boss’s former employers

A FEATURE of Hucknall Town manager Tommy Brookbanks’s reign at previous club Carlton Town was the amazing number of goals they scored — and conceded — in a feast of entertaining, attacking football.

So it’s hardly surprising that since his switch to The Yellows, clashes between the two clubs bore the same trademark.

Last season, Hucknall won 5-4 in the league cup but lost 3-2 in the county cup. On Saturday September 10, another five-goal thriller made it 19 in three encounters.

Brookbanks was pleased with the win not only because it put one over his former employers but also because he was forced to reshuffle his squad after their tiring exploits in the FA Cup less than three days earlier.

“After playing extra-time at Holbeach, some of the lads were dead on their feet,” The Yellows chief explained.

“A few drove to and from the game in their cars and didn’t get home until two in the morning, so I decided to make a few changes to give them a rest.”

The most significant changes saw star midfielder Jared Holmes and star striker Grant Ryan left on the substitutes’ bench.

In came Joel Goodacre and new signing Kieren Watson, 24-year-old brother of Nathan and a quicksilver striker snapped up from Shirebrook Town, who play in Division One of the Northern Counties East League.

The hard-working Watson impressed Hucknall fans, who gave him a terrific reception when he was withdrawn in the second half after working his socks off.

But the whole attitude of the Yellows side deserved applause for the way they battled back from falling a goal behind after only five minutes when full-back Theo Smith beat skipper Wayne Diuk to a cross and poked the ball home.

Smith was one of no fewer than six ex-Yellows in the Carlton squad — the others being Daniel Fletcher, Curtis Shaw, Rob Gill, Jermaine Hollis, Reuben Wiggins-Thomas and Terry Hawkridge.

Gill went close, while ‘keeper James Lindley twice foiled Ian Brown as Carlton always looked dangerous going forward.

But most of the first-half chances fell to Hucknall, with big striker Nick Ghislanzoni enjoying his best game for the club.

Hucknall could count themselves unlucky to be still behind at half-time. But all that changed within three minutes of the restart as they not only equalised but also edged ahead.

First Aidan Brady cut in from the right to deliver a fine cross that Callum Lloyd met with a glancing header. And then debutant Watson held the ball up before releasing brother Nathan, who ran on confidently to fire past ‘keeper Danny Marshall.

Carlton reminded everyone they were still in the game as Gill, Matthew Mills and Brown forced terrific saves from the impressive Lindley.

As they tired, Hucknall badly needed a third goal to kill the game off and Ghislanzoni went desperately close when trying to lob the stranded Marshall from fully 45 yards.

The striker was not to be denied, however, and seven minutes from the end, he volleyed home after a chip from substitute Matthieu Isamene rebounded off the bar.

Carlton were gifted a consolation goal in injury-time when sub Wiggins-Thomas reacted more quickly than weary defenders when Lindley parried a header by Brown.

But little could detract from a sparkling performance by The Yellows. The kind that Watnall Road has not seen for a very long time.