So far so good for Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves

Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves - Pic by James Williamson
Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves - Pic by James Williamson

Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves believes he will get a good indication of how ready his players are for the forthcoming campaign this week.

The Yellows fought back three times on Wednesday night to edge a seven-goal thriller against Evo-Stik League South Division opponents Carlton Town.

It was their fifth win from six fixtures this summer ahead of Saturday’s away trip to Horncastle Town. Town play Bilborough on Wednesday and Redcar on July 29th.

And, while pre-season results are no guarantee of three points when the Central Midlands League season rolls around, Graves said there are plenty of positives for his players.

“We’re happy but we’re not going to get carried away,” said Graves.

“Because we’re playing teams at Evo-Stik level, this will either tell us we’re better against the bigger teams or Central Midlands is far tougher than those leagues above us.

“Bilborough are at Step 7 so this is where we taper it down to our level. We play Redcar a week on Saturday who are again at our level, but play in the north.

“Horncastle did well in their league so they are a mystery but after Saturday, especially the Bilborough game, that will tell me where we are.”

Two goals for new recruit Shaun Smith and one apiece for Montell Gatland and Adam Nelson saw Town to a 4-3 win over Carlton.

“Carlton had been on a good run in pre-season themselves but we scored some quality goals and came back three times to nick it at the end,” said Graves.

“Without making the changes, we probably wouldn’t have conceded some of the goals but you have to make these changes in pre-season to get everyone minutes.

“The players coming on had an impact so there are plenty of positives.

“We only had five on the bench against Carlton so we did treat it more like a league game. There weren’t going to be loads of changes. We knew we had a couple out through working who would have normally started so I’m pleased everyone did well.”

That’s now four in two this pre-season for striker Smith, who signed from South Normanton, and Graves is pleased with how he has taken to his new surroundings.

“He’s got a great attitude, a nice lad and he’s settled in really well,” said Graves. “The first couple of games he was setting goals up, although not knocking one in himself - he deserved it.

“He scored two on Saturday and then another two against Carlton midweek so we’re more than happy with him and his contributions.

“That was the area we needed to get someone prolific and without putting too much pressure on him he proved that last season with 20 goals.

“I’d imagine us to create more than who he was playing for last season so the chances will be created for him and he also creates for others as well.”