Do-or-die time after first win in 130 days

UNDER PRESSURE -- Hucknall Town boss Tommy Brookbanks
UNDER PRESSURE -- Hucknall Town boss Tommy Brookbanks

PROUD manager Tommy Brookbanks has challenged his Hucknall Town side to build on their first league win for FOUR MONTHS, admitting it’s do-or-die time.

The Yellows recorded a long-overdue victory in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division when they thrashed bottom-of-the-table Retford United 5-2 at Cannon Park on Tuesday night (March 22).

It did not drag struggling Town out of the relegation-zone, thanks to results elsewhere, but it served as a welcome tonic as they prepare for a crunch run-in to save their top-flight skins.

Town’s last league win had come 130 days earlier, on November 13, when they beat Kendal Town 4-3 at Watnall Road.

Since then, a miserable run had seen them pick up just two points from 13 games and plummet to third-from-bottom in the table.

With Retford certainties for the drop, and Ossett Town looking likely to follow, The Yellows find themselves in an eight-team battle to avoid occupying one of the two remaining relegation places. Remarkably, the bottom ten teams are adrift from the top half of the table by 11 points.

With all of Town’s next five matches against fellow strugglers, Brookbanks knows it is crunch time.

Nantwich Town, who have named former Northern Ireland international Jimmy Quinn as their new boss, are the opponents on Saturday March 26 before a trip to Whitby Town on Wednesday March 30.

“We have to prove we can beat teams in and around us,” stressed Brookbanks. “These next five games are critical. If we can win them all, we are more or less out of trouble. But so far this season, the teams around us have taken points off us.

“We have got to go to Nantwich and Whitby and win — or the victory against Retford will mean nothing.

“We dragged some confidence from the Halifax Town game (Town lost 2-1 against the leaders) and then beat Retford, which was a relief. We have to keep it up.”

The struggles are a far cry from the success Brookbanks was used to at his former club, Carlton Town, and he added: “I do not want a relegation on my CV. I am proud to manage Hucknall Town and I am proud to have been given the job in the first place.”

Meanwhile The Yellows have been drawn against Carlton in the semi-finals of the Notts FA Senior County Cup.

The tie was due to take place on Monday March 28, sandwiched between Hucknall’s trips to Nantwich and Whitby. But Brookbanks said: “It has now been put back until the end of April. We didn’t want any distractions from our battle against relegation.”

Meanwhile Town’s squad continues to be afflicted by injuries. Dean Gent is out for the season with knee-ligament damage, Dion Chambers is out for two weeks with a hamstring problem, while David Boafo is struggling with groin trouble.

However Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale and Josh Burge are expected to shake off knocks in time for this weekend.