Five-star Hucknall Town shoot up to third in table

KING LEON --  driving midfielder Leon Aikman (right), who scored two of Hucknall Town's five goals.
KING LEON -- driving midfielder Leon Aikman (right), who scored two of Hucknall Town's five goals.

They’re still finding consistency elusive -- but HUCKNALL TOWN bounced back from defeat the previous week with a five-star performance to shoot up to third in the Central Midlands League, South Division table.

In front of another bumper 100-plus crowd at Watnall Road, Town put struggling Southwell City to the sword, winning 5-2.

Two of the goals were scored by ever-influential midfielder Leon Aikman. And two more were scored by Adam Nelson, who fully justified getting the nod as the lone striker after manager Andy Graves had returned to his side’s familiar 4-5-1 formation.

The Yellows also gave a debut in the centre of the park to Junior Harding, who has returned to the club after spells at Blidworth and Linby Colliery Welfare.

Harding (28) began his career at Watnall Road and was a young member of Dean Barrick’s squad that reached the final of the FA Vase at Villa Park in 2005.

Town were on the front foot from the opening exchanges and took the lead when Ben Waplington ran on to a right-wing cross from 17-year-old Toby Birch.

Southwell were restricted to a couple of long-range efforts as the home side, attacking down both flanks, won the battle for midfield.

And it was soon 2-0 as Nelson supplied a quality finish to a sweet move.

The frontman could have had another before the break, brilliantly taking the ball down in one touch but firing straight at the ‘keeper.

And Nelson posed a threat again when he controlled a cross with skill but just over-hit his pass as the marauding Aikman burst into the box.

Annoyingly, Town let their grip slip in a sloppy start to the second period when Southwell were not only gifted a lifeline goal but also an equaliser.

They were caught sleeping at the back, allowing midfield players to run, which yielded goals for Stef Whitely and Sheldon Tuitt.

However, a broadside from the dugout and two changes brought The Yellows back to life.

Matt Clowes was sent on to use his experience in midfield, while the pace of another 17-year-old, Montell Gatland, instantly restored Town’s advantage as he released Aikman, who slotted into the corner of the net.

More chances came and went as Town ran out comfortable winners against a Southwell side who never gave up.

The icing on the cake was provided by another goal apiece for both Nelson and then Aikman.

Now The Yellows’ task is to try and put together back-to-back victories as they travel to meet Real United this Saturday.

Real currently sit eighth in the table after winning four and losing three of their opening eight matches.