Town fans prepare for nailbiting finish to season

A POINT TO PROVE -- Hucknall Town score their equaliser to secure a share of the spoils against Matlock Town at Watnall Road
A POINT TO PROVE -- Hucknall Town score their equaliser to secure a share of the spoils against Matlock Town at Watnall Road

A NAILBITING finish to the season is in store for Hucknall Town fans as results conspired against The Yellows in the latest round of fixtures in the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League.

Yes, Hucknall will be buoyed by having come from behind to grab a point in a rollercoaster match against Matlock Town last Saturday.

But elsewhere, two of their main rivals for the drop, Frickley Athletic and Nantwich Town, both enjoyed tonic wins.

The latter hammered Ossett Town 5-0.

But the key result was a narrow 1-0 win for Frickley Athletic over Northwich Victoria.

Although Hucknall are still just outside the relegation zone (fifth from bottom with four to go down), they are now only level on points with Frickley (fourth from bottom), who have a game in hand.

Hucknall now have just two games over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend to save their skins.

Against Matlock, the locals were indebted to Matthieu Isamene, who was called into the squad from the reserve side, AFC Hucknall, and came off the bench to score a second-half leveller on his debut.

Earlier, an intriguing match had been punctuated by three spot-kicks, all of which were converted — one for The Yellows and two for visitors Matlock.

The first, on 20 minutes, saw Hucknall take the lead in front of a crowd of 211.

Top scorer Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale slotted past Nick Buxton after Liam King was adjudged to have handled in the box.

But despite a speculative effort from 30 yards from Jared Holmes bouncing wide, the home team were pegged back within eight minutes.

A back header from skipper Wayne Diuk failed to reach ‘keeper Ross Whalin and in the resultant confusion, Martin Ball fouled Lee Morris and the ref had no choice but to point to the spot. Ross Hannah powerfully despatched the penalty.

Then the same player repeated the dose nine minutes into the second half to give his side the lead.

Again it was Ball who conceded the penalty, this time being a little unfortunate to be pulled up for a foul on Adam Yates, which was given by a linesaman.

Again Hannah made the home side pay.

Matlock were on top and should have wrapped the points up. But when Hannah broke clear his lob over Whalin wasn’t strong enough and Diuk was able to clear to atone for his earlier mistake.

Yellows gaffer Tommy Brookbanks had seen enough and replaced Diuk with Grant Brindley and sent on Isamene in place of Fabian Smith.

The changes worked and Hucknall began to peg Matlock back.

On 74 minutes, Grant Ryan, who worked hard all afternoon, danced round two defenders and saw a shot blocked for a corner. The ball was played quickly to James Jepson, who in turn laid the ball off to Isamene for an accomplished curling finish with his left foot into the bottom corner.

Isamene then had a chance to really shout his arrival from the rooftops but saw a shot well saved after good work from David Boafo and Dion Chambers.

But things could have gone very sour at the death. For as Hucknall looked for a crucial winner, Whalin was forced to save superbly to deny Hannah his hat-trick.

HUCKNALL LINE-UP: Whalin/ Boafo Jepson Diuk Ball Chambers Smith Holmes Nightingale Ryan Griffith Junior.

Subs: Brindley (for Diuk 64), Isamene (for Smith 60), Whitman (not used), Lloyd (not used), Gill (not used).