Furious Hucknall Town see red in battle of Belper

Eugene Francis avoided a desborough tackle
Eugene Francis avoided a desborough tackle

Three red cards, two yellow cards, two penalties and four goals -- but no points for angry HUCKNALL TOWN after a stormy clash with Belper United in the Central Midlands League’s South Division.

Town felt hard done by after a 3-1 defeat against a Belper side renowned for their robust but effective long-ball style of football.

And they reserved most of their annoyance for the referee and his assistants, whose decisions turned the game against them.

Not only did The Yellows have two players sent off, they also had a goal disallowed, a controversial spot-kick awarded against them and a crude challenge by a Belper player go unpunished.

“I was disappointed with the way the game was run,” said manager Andy Graves.

“There were some silly tackles flying around that should have been stamped on. Liberties were taken and boundaries were pushed.

“It was ironic that we then had two players red-carded, although we couldn’t complain about either.”

An action-packed afternoon began with Belper bombarding Town’s goal and taking a 16th minute lead. A clearance upfield by Sam Vickers found striker Luke Crosby, who cleverly chipped stranded ‘keeper James Beddingham.

Beddingham, who claimed his vision was impeded by low sun, made amends with an unbelievable double save moments later to deny Ben Summers.

But then Town’s temperatures were raised by a poor, over-the-top tackle from Belper midfielder Jordan McRobie that tore the sock from knee to ankle of Jeremy Moran and broke his shinguard. Even the home side agreed McRobie was lucky to stay on the field, yet the lenient ref showed only a yellow card.

The Yellows’ sense of injustice was increased when Belper doubled their lead via a penalty, awarded for a foul by Josh Henry as Scott Clapperton burst into the box. Town felt the ref was too badly positioned to spot a possible dive -- and their ire was not softened when Vickers tucked away the spot-kick.

Nor was it softened just before the interval when Moran appeared to pull a goal back, slotting home after home ‘keeper Adam Jablonski spilled a free-kick by Montell Gatland. To their despair, the linesman raised his flag for a foul and the goal was ruled out.

As the second half got under way, Town were clearly fired-up by the decisions going against them. And at last, one went for them as another nasty, late challenge by McRobie -- this time on Beddingham -- saw him dismissed.

Only four minutes later, Town made the extra man count when awarded a penalty of their own as Tristan Spencer had his legs taken from under him in a rush of blood by Jablonski.

The Belper goalie was not only fortunate to stay on the field, but also got up to save Eugene Francis’s kick. Thankfully, Francis recovered to stab home the rebound. But any hope that The Yellows were firmly back in the game were instantly dashed because in the melee that followed as they tried to recover the ball, Leon Aikman foolishly pushed over a Belper player, who had kicked it out of Francis’s hands. Needless to say, Aikman saw red.

As the drama continued, Whetton was inches away from equalising -- before Town were reduced to nine men when right-back Gatland was harshly shown a straight red as he slid in to challenge Crosby bearing down on goal.

They continued to battle on and have a go. But their dogged resistance -- and an amazing afternoon -- came to an end two minutes from time when Ben Summers smashed home Belper’s third goal.