Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves was delighted to see his side prove they had learned a lesson from last season in Saturday’s opening 3-0 win at Mickleover RBL.
Patience paid off as a second half Joe Ashurst hat-trick saw them open the new season with three points and Graves said: “Mickleover is a difficult place to go, so to win 3-0 there we did all right once we’d got our heads around the length of the grass.
“It slowed us down a bit in the first half but the second half was much better.
“They were trying to slow the game down and were in no eager rush to restart the game when balls went out. So we had to lift the tempo ourselves.
“It did show we have learned from when we went to grounds like that last season.
“It (not going up) wasn’t down to the fact we lost games to teams around us as we only lost three times to the teams above us last season.
“It was going to those places like Micklover where we dropped points and they were frustrating us when we were dominating but, for one reason or another, we didn’t get the win or even lost. They were more damaging.
“So it was good to see we had learned a bit of a lesson. We had to be patient. But when we did break them down after that, I think they only had one effort on goal in 90 minutes, which was pleasing.”
Ashurst proved the hero on the day and Graves said: “Joe was back to something like his best.
“He has struggled a little bit in pre-season and looked a bit out of sorts. Maybe he was trying to rush it a bit too much.
“But he found his form when it mattered and got a hat-trick, which he deserved.”
However captain Joe Atkinson, Jordan Phillips and Elliott Pitt are all doubts for Saturday’s opening home game with Central Midlands league newcomers AFC Kilburn.
“Unfortunately we got an injury to the skipper – he got his ankle caught in the long grass second half and twisted it,” said Graves.
“Jordan Phillips started, but he hadn’t played for a few weeks with his knee and that grass wasn’t helping him with his twisting and turning. So we took him off as a precaution as well.
“Elliott Pitt didn’t train last night either with a heel problem. “Hopefully we’ll know by Friday if they are all going to be fit.”
Derbyshire club Kilburn have just joined CML South from the Midlands Regional Alliance and Graves admitted: “I know absolutely nothing about them other than they lost 4-1 at home on Saturday to Matlock, but Matlock are a good side.
“They’ve not had a brilliant pre-season but you can’t read a great deal into that.
“We won’t take them lightly. Every game you have to earn the right to win it, no matter who it is. We’ll give them respect and see what happens after 90 minutes.
“We will worry about ourselves. We don’t worry about the opposition too much.”