Hucknall boss blames poor finishing for promotion failure

Hucknall manager Andy Graves
Hucknall manager Andy Graves

Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves said continued poor finishing had cost his side any hope of promotion as Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Pinxton left them facing another season in the Central Midlands League South.

It was a third game without a win and Graves said “We’ve let our season go at the end, they’ve let themselves down.

“It’s not about me and Phil (Henry). We’ve given the players a platform to play, a better platform than most places even without the money that other clubs have.

“They’re all well looked after and I’ve been too loyal to them.

“There’s a few that talk the talk off the pitch and say they can put the ball in the back of the net but they don’t deliver.

“The season is over now, we can get either fourth or third. We can get the points back off Pinxton but the top two is over for us now. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s four seasons in a row in the top four but it’s not promotion. We never set out for promotion but it’s still frustrating.”

Graves has tried everything to sort Hucknall’s wastefulness in front of goals and said: “That will always be our Achilles.

“We create chances, even when we’re playing poorly. We’ve got to take them, but we miss too many.

“That’s what makes you a better team, that’s what wins you things. There’s too many in that dressing room that are letting the season fizzle out.

“I’ve told them that and I’ve told them that there’s a few of them that will not be here next season, I’ve been loyal enough.

“Sam Sims sat on the bench and he asked me and Phil (Henry), how do you put up with this? The frustration of seeing chance after chance being missed or the wrong final ball or getting in behind and making a mistake?”

Graves now expects most key players to stay and has already lined up new blood for next season.

He said: “I’ve already got three players that we’ve enquired about for next season, we’ve spoke to them already and they’ll make a big difference.

“The skipper (Atkinson) is considering retirement so we’ve got a centre-back coming in as well as a goalkeeper lined up to add competition for Randall, who hasn’t done a lot wrong this season

“We’re not going to move on unless we put the ball in the back of the net. Once again, I’ll get slated for missing all of those 12 chances.”

He added: “Nobody’s spoken about leaving that I know of so we should be able to keep the players that we want.

“There will be some that don’t want to stay if you put pressure on them because there are a few that are very fragile mentally.

“That’s been our biggest problem. We’ve tried to combat that, but once again today there were a few that were just hanging their feet in and standing around whilst others are giving 100 per cent.

“That’s the frustration because the players who aren’t giving it their all have the ability, but they get bullied too easily.”

On Saturday’s defeat at Pinxton, Graves said: “Up until the goal we were the better side, even footballing wise we were the better side all game.

“They had a game plan of ‘head it’, ‘clear it’, ‘don’t mess about with it in your own box’ and we got punished on the two occasions we didn’t apply the same rules.

“You could say that the result was down to two defensive errors, but how many times did we get behind them and create chances?

“Randall only touched the ball when he had to pick the ball out of the net whereas their keeper had to make some fantastic saves. “The only time we really tested the keeper was late on because at other times our shooting was abysmal.

“I’ve told the lads in the dressing room, when we play Pinxton at our ground, we must make sure we don’t embarrass ourselves.”

This Saturday, they travel to AFC Kilburn and Graves said: “We took Sims off as a precaution so that he can be fit for this week.”