Hucknall to stay fighting fit for big Vase derby despite blank weekend

Hucknall Town FC v Linby Colliery Welfare FCHucknall Town FC v Linby Colliery Welfare FC
Hucknall Town FC v Linby Colliery Welfare FC
Despite a blank weekend fixture-wise, Hucknall Town will be keeping themselves fighting fit for their big FA Vase derby with AFC Mansfield the following weekend at a boxing gym.

Boss Andy Graves took his player to the Ultra Boxing class at Hucknall Boys’ Boxing Club which was part of his preparation for the previous round’s impressive 5-1 win against Rocester and looks set to do the same this week.

“We have a reserve team game this weekend so one or two first teamers who need it will get a run-out with them,” he said.

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“To be honest before last Saturday I would have said we’d have liked to have had a game this weekend just kept ticking over.

“But we picked up one or two knocks last Saturday and one or two of those players might have been struggling if we were playing this Saturday. So I’m not particularly worried there.”

He added: “I have been taking them down the boxing gym on alternate weeks to make sure their fitness levels are really high, not just normal football fitness.

“We did it before the Rocester game and that worked okay.

“You get some players who can’t get to training nights because of work, so by going in the gym at least the ones who are there can get the benefit from it.

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“They work the punchbags and the coaches there put them through their paces – it’s good stuff. I train there so I am used to it.

“The lads are loving it to be honest, fitness-wise it’s really good. We will keep fit, we’ll keep ticking over.”

Hucknall Town needed extra-time to see off neighbours Linby Town 2-1 in the Central Midlands League Cup last weekend.

Hucknall gave outings to a few players who needed match time as well as a debut to 17-year-old keeper Keaton Sharpe.

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“We changed it round a bit but, no disrespect to Linby, we could have had it sewn up earlier,” said Graves.

“But their goalkeeper was in superb form – he was on a par with the Holbrook goalkeeper when we couldn’t get past them.

“The difference this time was we stayed a bit more patient and didn’t get frustrated, ground it out and got the winner in extra-time.”

The preparation for the big Vase tie with AFC begins now with Graves adding: “I am going to watch AFC Mansfield play on Tuesday when they play Clipstone, which should be a good yardstick as we played Clipstone pre-season.

“We should know more about them after that.

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“We know they are a good side, but they are only two levels higher than us as Rocester were, who we beat.

“We will give them respect but we are not frightened of them just because they are two leagues higher.”