HUCKNALL Town boss Brett Marshall was left wondering what might have been as his side bowed out of the FA Cup in a single-goal defeat against his former club Retford United.
After steering Retford United to the top of the NCEL Premier Division last season, Marshall, who had already made his decision to leave the club prior to the end of last season moved, along with the bulk of the players, to Hucknall.
And, despite the fact that they not only lost their manager and virtually all of the squad, Retford had begun the new season as they finished the last, in good form, winning three out of their first four games.
Who had the most to prove in this tie? Who wanted it more? The answer was both sides who produced a very good cup tie in conditions which ranged from sunshine to start with to thunder and lightening and storm-like abysmal conditions later on.
However, in the end, it was the yellows manager’s former employers who returned to Cannon Park with a 1-0 win under their belts and the £1,750 prize money.
Karl Slack and Julian Topliss were eager to press early on but the visiting back four were well composed and difficult to penetrate.
Slowly but surely though it was the visitors who took control of midfield and Kyle Hadley’s inch-perfect crosses from the right were becoming a real problem, with central defender Rob Sanderson winning almost every header in the box.
At the other end, Jamie Brown was a threat down the left for the Yellows but nothing fell quite right in the final quarter of the pitch.
Just before half-time Jason Fisher came out on top in a one-on-one with Retford’s Danny Frost and it was all-square at the interval.
The game’s only goal came ten minutes into the second half when Rob Sanderson’s dominance in the box bore fruit as he once again rose high against the opposition and nodded the ball beyond Fisher to put Retford into the lead.
With the conditions getting worse by the minute in the second half top marks went to both sets of players for keeping the momentum going but understandably it became increasingly harder to maintain possession and gauge a decent pass whilst it`s so tricky underfoot although there are some lovely slide tackles being made.
The goal seemed to give Hucknall the kick up the backside they needed and their game gained some momentum, Chris Baugh produced some sterling work down the right as a series of balls into the box had the visitors on the back foot for the first time in the game.
However, despite all their pressure, and five minutes of added time at the end, Hucknall ran out of steam, ran out of ideas and went out of the FA Cup for another season.