Graves to welcome back skipper as Hucknall look to rebound from defeats

Hucknall Town v Eastwood CFC'14th March 2015.''Hucknall Town's Joe Atkinson & Eastwood's Nick Hewer.''Pic by Dan Westwell
Hucknall Town v Eastwood CFC'14th March 2015.''Hucknall Town's Joe Atkinson & Eastwood's Nick Hewer.''Pic by Dan Westwell

Andy Graves will welcome captain Joe Atkinson back into the Hucknall defence on Saturday, as they look to bounce back from consecutive defeats.

The defender missed Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Clay Cross having had 12 stitches after being cut open in the Bulwell game.

But he’ll be putting on the armband again on Saturday when fourth placed Hucknall Town visit third from bottom Collingham Town.

Graves told the Dispatch he expects Atkinson to return, but he isn’t expecting an easy game against a side at the wrong end of the table.

“Joe is back on Saturday and he gives the back four and everybody confidence,” he said.

“Collingham beat Belper last week and there are no pushovers in this league, it’s competitive from top to bottom.

“If you’re not on your game you’re there to be shot at.”

Hucknall have put seven days in for a player and are speaking to an Ilkeston youngster about coming to get some match fitness with Town.

And Staveley’s Keiran Watson will play for the club as and when he’s available, on dial registration from Staveley Miners Welfare.

But after two defeats in a row, Graves is in no mood to panic.

“I’m still happy,” he said.

“I let everybody else around me panic.

“We’ve had a few players missing with injuries, the Bulwell loss was a freak game, we lost both centre-halves during the match.

“On Saturday we didn’t defend as well as we should have done, but the biggest thing was not being 6-0 up like we should have been, from not taking chances.”

Graves believes that when Hucknall were winning games by four goals, it may have papered over cracks that others couldn’t see in his side.

“When you’re winning things get hidden, little frailties, people forget that but we’ve been aware of it.

“It’s strange in football, earlier in the season goals were coming from all over the place, but not from our main striker.

“Now Niall (Thompson) is scoring most of the goals.

“We’re not going to get everything running smoothly all the time, that’s football.

“We’re not the finished article, but there’s no panic, we’ve just got to hopefully get a result on Saturday.”

And while well placed in the league despite the recent blip, Graves is concentrating on the long haul, not their current position.

“We’ve got 25 league games to come yet.

“We’ve still got games in hand, there’s an awful long way to go yet.”