Hucknall ease past Graham St Prims to return to winning ways
Hucknall Town made the most of their early numerical advantage to come away from a thrilling game against Graham Street Prims at Watnall Road with a 5-2 victory, writes Louis Wheeldon.
A resilient showing from the visitors was eventually broken down by a spirited Yellows side, with goals from Craig Westcarr, Louis Kinnerley, Aaron Lamb, Jordan Phillips and Joe Ashurst ensuring that all three points remained in Nottinghamshire.
Andy Graves named an unchanged starting XI following Hucknall’s draw at Dunkirk last week, and it was the hosts who drew first blood early on after Matt Brian’s volley was beaten away by a Prims defender’s stray hand.
The referee was quick to award a penalty and subsequently handed the culprit a straight red card. Westcarr stepped up from 12 yards and made no mistake, smashing the ball to the goalkeeper’s right.
Despite being down to ten men, Prims defended viciously as Phillips and Ashurst both saw efforts from the edge sent over and wide, but the lead was doubled in the 27th minute by Kinnerley.
A corner from Ashurst was deflected straight into the air, and Kinnerley caught it superbly on the volley to fire Hucknall’s second into the bottom corner, giving his side a two-goal cushion at the break.
After the interval, however, Prims bit back, with winger Sam Boyall breaking in behind Town’s high line and slotting past the onrushing Keaton Sharpe to halve the deficit.
Hucknall maintained the momentum, however, and a good ball from the left-hand side by Oliver Brown was diverted into Lamb’s path by Westcarr, and the winger provided a gorgeous lob to get the two-goal advantage back.
The Yellows pressed hard and managed to net a fourth after a cross from Westcarr was kept alive by Ashurst, who rolled it into the path of Phillips to tap into an empty net.
It was not quite plain sailing from there, however, as Boyall and Andi Kideri each went close with tame efforts, before defender Lee Cranstone glanced a header onto the roof of the net with keeper Sharpe beaten.
Prims were rewarded for their persistence in the end, as substitute Oskar Kruk broke free in the left channel to slot home a second for the away side.
It was to be nothing more than a consolation though, as six minutes later Ashurst produced a moment of magic to confirm all three points for Hucknall.
The midfielder ran onto a loose ball on the edge to break in behind, and displayed some outrageous footwork to beat his man, before arrowing a spectacular effort into the top corner.
After the game, manager Graves said: “I said before that they were going to be a tough team to break down.
“We didn’t play the ten men very well in the first 20 minutes after the sending off to be honest, we were forcing it rather than playing around them, which I said at half-time.
“We gave a silly goal away, but that kickstarted us to play our better football.”
On the goal at the death from Ashurst, he said: “That’s what Joe can do when he is fully switched on. He has been a bit sloppy at times lately but that showed exactly what he can do.”
Finally, on playing with an extra man, Graves stated: “It doesn’t always work in your favour, having a numerical advantage. I was hoping it wouldn’t go the same way as the Saffron Dynamo game.
“But it shows if you switch off, you’ll get punished. And to be fair, they only had about three chances and they took two of them.
“We hit the bar, had three cleared off the line, and the scoreline makes it look comfortable, but you still have to earn your right in these games. Nobody’s going to just roll over.”
Hucknall: Sharpe, Bartley, Brown, Ashurst, Short (c), Leak, Lamb (Ryan 77’), Phillips, Westcarr, Brian (Francis 64’), Kinnerley (Banister 58’). Subs not used: Maxwell.