A sequence of three games on the spin against Belper United began well but continued with penalty-shootout heartache for HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE in the Central Midlands League.
Last Saturday, Rolls beat Belper 4-2 to leap above them and into the top six of the South Division table. But they failed to follow up on Wednesday night with a defeat that denied them a place in the southern semi-finals of the league’s Floodlit Cup.
Now they must pick themselves up when they take on Belper again, this time away from home, in the quarter-finals of the league cup next Wednesday night
The Flodlit Cup clash finished 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes. But early in extra-time, Rolls had substitute Jamie Thomas sent off for a lunging tackle and they lost the shootout 5-4. The first nine spot-kicks were all converted before Belper ‘keeper Mark Rathbone pulled off a save.
The visitors had grabbed a 36th minute lead when striker Sam Vickers showed his quality with a fine lob over onrushing goalkeeper Jack Walker. Rolls levelled ten minutes into the second period when Greg Conn burst into the box before firing home.
ROLLS LINE-UP (4-4-2) -- Walker/ Conn, Duncan, Brooks, Short/ Harrison R., Matthews J., Buckley, Bettridge/ Allen J., Smith J.
THE main feature of Rolls’s league win was their never-say-die attitude as they fought back superbly after going 2-1 down early in the second half to a goal from Belper’s former Hucknall Town man, Tristan Spencer.
Switching to 4-4-2 and egged on by a sterling man-of-the-match performance from Johnny ‘Hotdog’ Buckley in the heart of midfield, they levelled when a diagonal free-kick into the box by Aaron Short caused such confusion that Adam Robley put through his own net.
Suddenly, Rolls looked a different side. Talismanic striker Jack Allen was brought down for a penalty that Chay Bettridge converted and the win was sealed when Conn drilled home from the edge of the box.
Bettridge had also bagged the game’s opening goal back in the 20th minute when latching on to a delightful ball from wing-back Rory Smith to find the top corner. However, impressive Belper kept plugging away and capitalised on some lax defending when winger Nick Murray squeezed home from a tight angle.
ROLLS LINE-UP (3-5-2) -- Walker/ Conn, Duncan, Short/ Smith R., Matthews J., Buckley, Bettridge, Thomas. Smith J., Allen J.