Heaven-sent Town

DEFIANT Hucknall Town shrugged off the footballing week from hell to pick up a win just when it was needed in the Unibond League's Premier Division last Saturday.

And what's more, they did it despite missing a penalty for the THIRD successive away trip.

Town made the long trek to Bishop Auckland on the back of the kind of week they wouldn't have wished on their worst enemies.

Not only did they suffer two defeats in four days to plunge them into deeper relegation trouble, they also faced the prospect of being thrown out of the Notts FA Senior Cup for fielding an ineligible player.

However they unveiled another new signing in highly rated striker Ian Duerden, who was snapped up on a free transfer from Barrow.

And his goal, plus an 11th of the season for Gary Ricketts, secured three priceless points.

OK, skipper Paul Mitchell followed in the footsteps of player/manager Phil Starbuck and Ricketts by sqaundering a spot-kick.

But the misses were all forgotten when new goalkeeper Ryan Young saved a penalty at the other end in the dying minutes, standing firm to foil Brian Rowe after Simon Brown had taken out Carl Chillingsworth.

In a flexible 3-4-3-cum-4-3-3 formation, Brown returned to the side to partner another new face, Craig Gaunt, in the heart of the Town backline.

Steve Roebuck covered for Danny Mayman, who could be out for two weeks with a groin injury sustained in the midweek defeat at Droylsden.

While Simon Newell was left on the substitutes' bench to herald a quick recall for Nathan Hollingworth at left-back.

The 23-year-old Duerden was brought in for Ricketts but justified the decision with a debut goal that oozed quality.

Paul Burke embarked on a weaving run down the left and delivered a pinpoint cross that Duerden neatly volleyed past 'keeper David Campbell and into the roof of the net.

The breakthrough was nothing more than Town deserved after a lively opening. And incredibly, they had the ball in the net twice more in the next four minutes, only for Nick Kennerdale's efforts to be ruled out for offside.

Moments later came the penalty-miss Campbell superbly saving after Burke had been hacked down by Antony Skedd. But Town continued to call the tune in the second half with Duerden shooting wide after a fine run.

The dangerous Burke had to go off in the 67th minute after a scything tackle from Auckland skipper Mark Salmon, which left the striker with a sore back.

But his replacement, Ricketts, effectively sealed the points three minutes later, running on to an astute through ball from Duerden to drill into the corner, past the advancing 'keeper.

Duerden made his presence felt again when heading against the underside of the bar. And Auckland's misery was complete when Rowe missed his spot-kick.

The County Durham outfit have now gone ten matches without a win and are in peril of being sucked into the relegation dogfight themselves only one season after finishing as high as third.

BISHOP AUCKLAND 0

HUCKNALL TOWN 2

GOALS Duerden (Town) 33, Ricketts (Town) 70.

n LINE-UP TOWN (3-4-3):

DEFENCE: 1Young/ 2Roebuck 5Brown 6Gaunt.

MIDFIELD: 8Mitchell 4Starbuck 7Prindiville 3Hollingworth.

ATTACK: 11 Burke 9Duerden 10Kennerdale.

SUBS: 12Wright, 14Newell, 15Ricketts

BISHOP AUCKLAND: 1Campbell/ 2Jones 3Dunn 4Skedd 5Salmon 6Foster 7Shoulder 8Rowe 9Shaw 10Chillingsworth 11Brunskill. Subs: 12Bromley (for Shaw 35), 14Ellenden (for Foster 82), 15Lydon (for Brunskill 67).

TOWN MAN-OF-MATCH Duerden.

CROWD 176.