Graves praises improved display as Hucknall Town end poor run of form

Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves
Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves

Hucknall Town returned to winning ways after completing a comprehensive 3-0 victory at AFC Kilburn.

Recent signing Jack Smith provided the travelling Hucknall fans with a second half brace to cheer following Joe Ashurst’s first-half penalty.

It ended a run of four games without a win for the Yellows.

Boss Adny Graves described the win as in improved display.

“It was an improved performance, I thought it was quite comfortable,” he said.

“We changed things round a bit today as players like Sims are away and it’s worked. We moved Ben (Jones) up to midfield and Joe (Ashurst) up top and they played well. We had six centre-backs playing today, maybe it’s something I should do more often.

“Jack (Smith) also had a good game and has showed what he can produce. He’s been getting back up to fitness after some time out and I think he’s ready to be part of the team for the rest of this season and the next.”

With promotion mathematically impossible, Hucknall were playing for pride and as high a finish as possible whilst the hosts sat only four places above the foot of the table in the Central Midlands Football League South Division.

Hucknall manager Andy Graves made tactical and personnel changes for the visit to Derbyshire and he was rewarded for the move immediately. Joe Ashurst was deployed in a more advanced central role than normal and caused the Kilburn defenders problems in the penalty area. It only took seven minutes for Ashurst to be fouled in the box; the club’s leading goal scorer added to his season tally from the spot to give Hucknall the lead.

The visiting bench thought they had doubled their lead just five minutes later when young defender Ben Jones converted from close range but David Leak was judged to be offside from the initial free-kick.

After a dominating first-half, Hucknall only led via the penalty going in to the break. It was more of the same to the delight of Graves for the second 45 minutes as Jones came close from a corner only minutes after the restart.

It was in the 55th minute when Hucknall finally doubled their lead and it was the recently acquired Jack Smith from Eastwood Community who opened his Yellows account in his fourth game for the club. The maiden goal for the attacker was one to remember as after receiving the ball 25-yards from goal, his resulting shot nestled in the top left corner leaving the Kilburn keeper flat-footed.

Jones missed another chance, this time firing first time from long range only to see his effort just sail over the bar. The defender enjoyed a spell in midfield alongside Jordan Phillips who were both key in cutting out any Kilburn attacks.

Another young defender for Hucknall who starred in the comfortable win was Ethan Greenidge who started the attack for the final goal. After being fouled on the half-way line, his free-kick found Cayne Maxwell’s marauding run down the right-wing. Maxwell pulled the ball back to Smith who danced around two Kilburn defenders with the ball before striking his shot across goal in to the bottom corner.

Player Ratings:

Randall 5, Maxwell 7, Leak 6, Atkinson 6, Jenkins 5, Jones 7, Phillips 6, Reittie 5, Crawford 6 (Waplington 5), Smith 8, Ashurst 7 (Greenidge 7)