THUMBS up from all concerned was the message from a weekend that Hucknall Town hope will kick-start a revival in their flagging fortunes.
After suffering relegation from the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division last season and then being hit by a VAT debt of up to £75,000, Town badly needed an injection of goodwill.
And they got it as a bumper crowd of 922 turned up for their first pre-season friendly against Notts County at Watnall Road on Saturday July 2.
The Magpies won 1-0 but fans were treated to a promising performance by The Yellows’ new-look side that suggests they can make an impact in Division One South of the Evo-Stik.
Town’s gaping coffers were boosted too — not only by the match but also by two fundraising events that went well — a concert by the Tom Wardle Band last Saturday night and then a Pamper Day, staged by Hucknall business Hair And Beauty Corner on Sunday July 2.
“It was an excellent weekend and everything was very positive,” enthused assistant manager Gary Stones.
“Notts were brilliant. They brought a strong side and manager Martin Allen was there, chatting to all the fans.
“I think our supporters were quite impressed with some of our new, younger players.
“Obviously, Notts are a professional outfit and they kept the ball well. But it was encouraging to see us create so many chances, especially considering we had had only three training sessions beforehand. All that was lacking was the finishing touch.”
The Yellows also had to overcome the absence of several key players, including new goalkeeper James Lindley.
Also missing was new striker Phil Massingham, plus David Boafo, James Jepson, Dean Gent and Anthony Griffith-Junior.
In their starting line-up, they paraded five new signings — defenders Romaine Graham and Kieran Walker, midfielders Nathan Watson and Dan Elliott and striker Carl Westcarr. While four others featured in the second period — Max Wright, Nick Ghizlahzoni, Theo Ganderson and Adam Corrigan.
Notts also had a friendly at Ilkeston Town earlier in the afternoon, which they drew 2-2. But backed by a sizeable following, they still fielded several well-known names, most notably former Yellows ‘keeper Stuart Nelson and captain-for-the-day Krystian Pearce.
Also in the squad were Mike Edwards, Karl Hawley and John Spicer, plus new recruits Hamza Bencherif and Ishmel Demontagnac. But it was an unnamed triallist who scored the only goal of the game 15 minutes from time — a 20-yarder rifled into the bottom corner, off a post, that gave young ‘keeper Jack Harvey no chance.
Earlier The Yellows had hit the woodwork, through busy striker Grant Ryan, while only a superb headed goalline clearance by defender Kyle Dixon denied a goal for Martin Ball. But their best chance fell to substitute Ganderson, who somehow blazed over from the corner of the six-yard box.
LINE-UP — TOWN (4-4-2): Harvey/ Graham, Diuk, Ball, Walker K./ Watson, Elliot, Holmes J., Lloyd/ Westcarr, Ryan. Subs: Pheasant, Wright, Ghizlahzoni, Goodacre J., Hogg, Ganderson, Corrigan, Isamene, Sisson.
NOTTS SQUAD: Nelson, Kelly, Brown, Pearce, Bencerif, Nicholas, Thompson, Dixon, Demontognac, Edwards, Marshall, Hollis, Spicer, Mitchell, Jones, Dixon, Hawley, Tempset, plus three triallists.
TOWN followed up by losing out to a single goal on Tuesday night at Watnall Road against Scarborough Athletic.
The Yellows hit the bar and the post but couldn’t find the net in a game watched by a crowd of 120.
THE Yellows’ next friendly is Saturday July 16, although details have yet to be confirmed because their original opponents, Retford United, have cried off.
The season proper begins on Saturday August 13. The Evo-Stik League are releasing all fixtures on Wednesday July 13.