Captain Joe Atkinson leads by example in Hucknall Town win

Joe Atkinson celebrates his goal.
Joe Atkinson celebrates his goal.

Returning captain Joe Atkinson produced a moment of magic to cap off a convincing 2-0 win for Hucknall Town.

Two second half volleys from Jamie Crawford and Joe Atkinson proved to be the difference in a tight affair at the Watnall Road Ground.

The three points picked up by Hucknall takes them within two points of top-of-the-table Pinxton with a game in hand.

Hilton proved to be tough opposition and played their part in a very cagey first half. Neither team could really take control in the opening 45 minutes but both teams had the intent of taking the lead early on.

The Harriers were the first team to waste a decent opportunity as Hucknall’s Dave Leak missed an easy defensive header which sent Jason North through in goal. His effort was sent high and wide after good goalkeeping from Michael Randall.

The Yellows began to increase the pressure as the game progressed as Joe Ashurst had three great opportunities saved by Harry Wood within the first 30 minutes of play. The best of the chances came in the 28th minute when Sam Hawkins slotted Ashurst clean through on goal, only to be denied by the outstretched foot of the Hilton goalkeeper.

Hucknall ended the half stronger by applying some late pressure on the Hilton goal but failed to create any clear-cut chances. Andy Graves was left with a selection headache at half-time however as moments before the whistle was blown for the break, Devante Reittie pulled up with an injury to his hip and couldn’t return for the second half.

Ben Waplington came on after the break for the injured Reittie and he began to make a difference instantly. His enthusiasm to have a shot on goal saw him have two attempts within ten minutes of the second half starting.

All of the Hucknall Town pressure was nearly all for nothing as a Ben Sanderman cross was whipped in to the box with too much pace. Had the cross been a little slower, Hilton striker North would have scored a bullet header, but he was just a whisker away.

Hilton were made to pay for their missed chance as Scott Abbey failed to clear a long ball and allowed Hucknall’s substitute in behind the defence. Waplington’s cross perfectly set up Jamie Crawford who was waiting on the edge of the box and he struck the ball on the volley with his effort being too powerful for Wood to keep out.

Sam Hawkins was replaced by Mitchell Slawson for the Yellows just after the hour mark and Andy Graves side doubled their lead shortly afterwards. Crawford’s goal was a sight to see but returning skipper Joe Atkinson sweetly struck a cleared corner on the volley and watched it sail in to the top right corner. A sensational finish which left Wood with no chance of getting a hand to it, and effectively prevented Hilton getting a hand on the three points at stake.

The Hucknall defence proved to be too robust for the visiting attack as they firmly held on to their clean sheet with relative ease. A late emphatic long shot by substitute Mitchell Slawson struck the inside of the post in the 80th minute and prevented the Yellows from three world class finishes in one game.

Hucknall Town: Randall 7, Henry 6, Dave Leak 6, Joe Atkinson 9, Jones 7, Phillips 6, Reittie 5 (Waplington 8), Banister 6 (Danso 6), Ashurst 6, Hawkins 6 (Slawson 6), Crawford 7.

Subs: Jenkins, Hubbard.