Birthday boy Jack Smith emphasised his value to HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE with the goal that prised a creditable point out of in-form title contenders Pinxton.
Beefy striker Smith also produced a man-of-the-match display on the day he turned 21 as Rolls battled to a 1-1 draw to check a run of seven wins in nine games by the second-placed visitors.
The result kept the Hucknall outfit in the top six of the Central Midlands League’s South Division table and should have filled them with confidence ahead of another stern test -- at home to reigning champions Clifton All Whites next Wednesday.
Smith, recruited from Basford United last summer, was a constant threat in the absence of injured top scorer Jack Allen and gave Rolls the lead in the 35th minute. Twenty yards out, he turned his marker before catching the Pinxton ‘keeper off guard with a drilled right-foot effort for his 12th goal in 26 league appearances.
The strike was the highlight of a scrappy opening half of few chances, although a terrific glancing header from Chay Bettridge, dangerous in a more advanced role, was only inches from creeping in at the far post.
At the break, managers Jez Corthorn and Jonathan ‘Toddy’ Wass reminded their troops of how they had surrendered a similar lead in the reverse fixture at Pinxton and lost 3-1.
It seemed to have fallen on deaf ears because, ten minutes into the second period, the visitors levelled when winger Danny O’Donnell did well to brush off a challenge by backtracking skipper Aaron Short to smash home from ten yards
However, Rolls still remained focused and determined not to let their workrate slip. As Pinxton took control, their back three defended superbly to prevent any clearcut chances, while at the other end, that man Smith almost snatched a dramatic winner, rounding the ‘keeper for a shot with his weaker foot from a tight angle that struck a post
ROLLS LINE-UP (3-5-2) -- Walker/ Buckley, Duncan, Short/ Matthews K., Smith R., Marshall, Conn, Thomas/ Bettridge, Smith J.
JACK Smith was on target again as Rolls cruised into the quarter-finals of the Central Midlands League Cup with a 2-0 win on Wednesday night.
The Rollers were warm favourites for the Third Round tie at home to Sherwood Colliery, who are struggling in the bottom three of the league’s North Division. And they ensured there was no upset, dominating possession from the off, with most of the first-half play in Sherwood’s defensive third.
After wasting several chances, Rolls made the deserved breakthrough in the 20th minute when a delicious diagonal-ball from skipper Aaron Short fell to the feet of Smith, who poked home a one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
The home side continued to create openings, pinning Sherwood back, and they doubled the lead 15 minutes into the second period when a cross by recalled veteran Richard Harrison made its way to Jamie ‘Midge’ Thomas. Faced with just the goalie to beat, the wing-back calmly converted with his left foot.
ROLLS LINE-UP (3-5-2) -- Walker/ Harrison, Duncan, Short/ Smith R., Conn, Marshall, Matthews J., Thomas/ Smith J., Bettridge.