Whipping boys’ visit all set to end Hucknall Town’s miserable run

GETTING STUCK IN -- midfielder Leon Aikman (yellow), who smashed in Town's equaliser
GETTING STUCK IN -- midfielder Leon Aikman (yellow), who smashed in Town's equaliser

Anxious HUCKNALL TOWN will be desperate to banish their long run without a victory when bottom-of-the-table whipping-boys Calverton Miners Welfare visit Watnall Road this weekend.

A 1-1 draw away to struggling Holbrook St Michael’s last Saturday means Town have avoided defeat in four of their last five Central Midlands League (CML), South Division games.

But more tellingly, they have not tasted victory since beating Real United way back on 5th October.

That represents a sequence of nine contests in the league and 13 in all competitions.

So the chance to end it all against a Calverton side who have picked up only three points (and no victories) in 20 matches this term could not be better timed. The Yellows thrashed them 6-0 earlier in the campaign.

The trip to Holbrook was one of only two CML fixtures to survive the rainy weather. And given that a mudbath of a pitch made conditions stamina-sapping to say the least, the Derbyshire side deserved credit for making it playable.

Both sides also deserved credit for serving up an entertaining match for a sizeablke crowd, swelled by a good following from Hucknall.

And Yellows boss Andy Graves felt a draw was probably a fair outcome, even though Holbrook are below them in the table and have recorded only two wins in 23 fixtures.

In his assessment, Graves was probably mindful of the fact that he was still unable to name a full-strength side after weeks of frustration.

Yes, he did welcome back central defender Alex Arnold for his first start since the draw with Pinxton way back in September. But John Whetton, Tom Crisp and Jeremy Moran were all out injured, while captain Cameron Davidson had to start on the substitutes’ bench after being held up by work commitments and traffic.

It also needs to be pointed out that Holbrook have been showing significant signs of improvement in recent weeks and even beat title-chasing Belper United in their previous home game.

The first half saw Town defend a bottom goal where the 18-yard box was devoid of grass. The home team threw everything forwward, so the Yellows backline did well to hold firm.

Chris Saunders posed the biggest threat, giving young left-back Jack Ford a torrid time. But Saunders was lucky to stay on the pitch after he punched Eugene Francis in the middle of the back in full view of the referee, who showed only a yellow card.

To their credit, Town created the best chances of the half, with Nick Morgan’s shot from an angle pushed out for a corner. And after the break, they began to take control, although their final pass was too often overhit or overplayed.

The match appeared to be heading for a goalless draw until Holbrook stole the lead with a wonder goal in the 75th minute. Arnold cut out a cross, only for the ball to sit up nicely for Kyle Johnson, who unleashed a first-time volley that rocketed into the top corner.

It was a stunner for Town, so they deserve praise for reacting instantly with an equaliser. Davidson, who had been introduced only moments earlier, picked up the ball in the centre of the park and slid a superb, defence-splitting pass into the path of Leon Aikman, who smashed low into the corner of the net.

The Yellows finished the stronger side, but missed a couple of late chances which might have pocketed that eagerly-awaited victory.