Hucknall Town firmly in the mix as results open up promotion race

The East Midlands Counties League promotion race continues to open up with Hucknall Town very much in the thick of it after a fine 1-1 away draw at table-topping Sherwood Colliery.

By John Lomas
Thursday, 12th March 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th March 2020, 2:41 pm
Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves.

At the same time, rivals Eastwood Community were losing at home to Kimberley MW before Sherwood dropped two more points in midweek in a 3-3 thriller with Dunkirk.

“Results are opening things up above us and keeping everyone in the mix,” smiled Hucknall boss Andy Graves.

“Eastwood got beaten on Saturday and last night I went to watch Dunkirk and Sherwood draw 3-3.

“Sherwood came from 2-0 down and 3-1 down and could have quite easily won the game in the end. They hit the crossbar twice as well.

“The Eastwood result surprised me with it being on their own pitch – it would not have surprised me had it been on grass.”

On the Yellows' draw at Sherwood, he said: “It was definitely a well-earned point and a very good game between two very good sides.

“We went behind to a soft goal which was a bit disappointing, but then we went down the other end and felt we should have had a penalty.

“Our second half performance was very good and we scored a very well-worked goal.

“We restricted them to just counter attacks and Aaron Short was unlucky with a header he had cleared off the line.

“They did have a chance right at the end and, on reflection it was a fair result.

“It showed we can live with Sherwood and we didn't have Liam Hearn playing for us.”

The absence of vastly experienced striker Hearn, due to make a second 'debut' for the club he started out at, was a big pre-match blow.

“He had to go to the academy game between Mansfield Town and Rotherham, which takes priority, so unfortunately could not make it,” said Graves.

“It was a little bit of an anti-climax, but we played well and Liam will make his debut at West Bridgford on Saturday.

“Liam let me know on Friday and, with it being a morning game for Mansfield, we just left it open if he could make it. But he had a lot of things to sort on on his coaching side.

“We reshuffled a little bit and I don't think it affected us mentally going into the game. I thought we performed really well.

“I kept it quiet but when I told the Sherwood manager he wasn't playing he thought I was winding him up. I think he thought that I was playing mind games with him.”

Hucknall head for West Bridgford on Saturday to face a side just two places behind them in seventh.

“West Bridgford are on a good run of form as well and, apart from Sherwood, they have probably been the best footballing side we have played this season, even though we managed to beat them at home,” said Graves.

“They play the right way, they are coming on the back of a good result, and it is going to be a tough trip there.”

He added: “We have good competition for places again now which gives me the opportunity to rotate like we prior to going a bit thin on the squad numbers.

“It's what we did last year when we won promotion.

“We rotated it when we thought people needed a rest or didn't do a job we'd ask them to do and we put someone else in the do the job. We are trying to keep everyone happy.

“Rory Smith is now with us until the end of the season. He is a dual signing with Arnold but has decided to commit to Hucknall which has solved my midfield option issue.

“We have cover at the back and even up front too now. At the moment we have no injuries either so, touch wood, we should be covered.”