Massive week ahead for Hucknall Town in CML title race

Hucknall Town manager, Andy Graves.
Hucknall Town manager, Andy Graves.

Hucknall Town face a massive week in which wins in their local derby over Linby Colliery and against leaders Matlock Town Reserves could move them top of the table.

Hucknall host Linby on Saturday before heading for Matlock on Tuesday and currently sit four points adrift of the leaders with three games in hand.

A hard-earned 3-2 win at struggling Teversal Reserves last Saturday made it 10 wins and a draw in 11 to keep their title tilt on track in the Central Midlands League South, before beating Swanwick Pentrich Road 2-0 at home on Tuesday to book a place in the League Cup final.

Although Hucknall won 4-0 at Linby, boss Andy Graves warned: “Saturday is going to be a tough one as it always is against Linby.

“They have brought a few players in and their fortunes have changed a bit in recent weeks. They will be looking for a big scalp.

“Then obviously we have Matlock on Tuesday night.

“We could go top but I don’t want to put pressure on us. I think there is a lot more pressure on Matlock right now as I don’t think they can afford to drop another point.

“They might have the points on the board but we have got the games in hand and, while losing there would make things a bit tougher for us, if we step up to it we still have it in our own hands.

“It’s up to us. We can’t rely on anybody else.

“Matlock have a young squad and quite a lot of players to choose from. But I have seen their first team are now playing on the same night so it will be interesting to see who they actually play on the night.

“They did well last weekend against Pinxton, though Pinxton were missing certain players for whatever reason.”

Teversal certainly made life uncomfortable for Hucknall on Saturday.

“At Teversal we made it hard for ourselves to be perfectly honest,” said Graves.

“We were comfortable at 2-0 up but then made an uncharacteristic mistake to let them back in it before we went 3-1 up.

“The pitch was very dry and bobbly so we said at half-time no back passes. But that fell on deaf ears and we put Mike in a position he should not have been in in goal.

“It was still a hit and hope that found the net, but it was our own fault. So we had to grind out the result.”

Things didn’t get much better until a half-time rocket from Graves woke his side up in the League Cup semi-final with Swanwick.

“The first half against Swanwick was the worst we’ve played all season and I had to say some uncharacteristic words at half-time,” he admitted.

“Thankfully they responded well and all credit to them.

“They got what they deserved and I can’t complain. The second half and extra-time we were back to how we have been playing. Hopefully it will have restored our confidence at the right time.

“Mike made a couple of good saves which will hopefully help his confidence in goal.

“He has had some unfair comments made to him by supporters since we lost Adam Jablonski, who we know was a big player for us.

“But Mike is a good goalkeeper and I think one or two people have lost themselves a bit with their grumblings about Mike. It’s people panicking and I am trying to keep everyone together.

“He showed what he can do against Swanwick and fair play to him.

Graves said all thoughts of the cup final – to be held at Ilkeston Town FC over the first May Bank Holiday – must be banished all the league title chase completed first.

“I hate horrible cliches but it really was just one game and that is now put to bed until the end of the season,” he said.

“It is something to look forward to for the committee and the supporters as well as the players, but we have really now got to concentrate on the league programme.”