Badgered out of the cup by derby rivals

REID IT AND WEEP -- Hucknall's Craig Reid is thrown into the air by a robust challenge -- DISPIC NHUD12-0562-4
REID IT AND WEEP -- Hucknall's Craig Reid is thrown into the air by a robust challenge -- DISPIC NHUD12-0562-4
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OLD boy John Ramshaw came back to haunt Hucknall Town as his new charges, Eastwood Town, progressed to the semi-finals of the Notts FA Senior County Cup by virtue of a single goal at Watnall Road.

Ramshaw was once the hero of The Yellows and registered eight major honours in six years as manager.

But he has now been drafted in to try and turn around the fortunes of Eastwood — Hucknall’s derby rivals and perennial adversaries in the Senior Cup.

Remarkable similarities can be drawn between the two arch rivals this season.

Hucknall have suffered their well-documented problems off the field with acrimony in the boardroom and have struggled for consistency on the pitch in Division One South of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

While The Badgers are heading for almost certain relegation from the Blue Square Bet North — two runs further up the non-league ladder — on the back of a financial crisis that threatens to spark a mass exodus of players.

Wednesday night’s clash was a chance to put league woes behind them and concentrate on a trophy Eastwood have picked up six times in the last seven years.

On a misty night, there wasn’t a great deal between the sides despite them being two divisions apart.

But it was Eastwood who were smiling at the final whistle thanks to a strike from Markel Bailey just nine minutes into the second half.

Hucknall had been first to threaten on seven minutes when Eastwood centre-halves Gavin Caines and David Haggerty couldn’t decide who should clear a long ball and ended up both missing it completely, but Grant Ryan’s chip from distance couldn’t beat keeper Sam Andrew, who was off his line and the ball dropped wide.

The Badgers then nearly registered three minutes later as Josh Burge’s cross had Hucknall appealing for an offside that wasn’t given. Jevaise Christie carried on regardless and when he stretched and got a touch it took a good save by James Lindley’s feet to keep the scores level.

Ryan then showed great tenacity to break in from the left through several tackles but his shot from a reasonable position 12 yards out was screwed well wide of Andrew’s goal.

Moments later, Eastwood’s Danny Elliott won the ball in midfield with a crunching challenge, and when Burge fed Christie he powered forward and hit a shot from 25 yards out which was just too high.

Craig Reid then dinked a through ball into former Badger Anthony Gregory whose effort was well blocked by Andrew on 27 minutes as the game continued to be fairly even in terms of possession.

Lee McAnulty headed just wide from a left-wing corner on 35 and the same player drilled past the post five minutes later after a good passing move ended with the ball falling to him 25 yards out.

Hucknall came closest so far seven minutes into the second-half when Reid’s corner from the left was met by Gregory’s head but his effort looped onto the crossbar and the ball was cleared.

But the opening goal went to the hosts on 54 and there was an element of good fortune about it.

Bailey picked the ball up on the left-hand side and when he cut inside and put a low cross into the box searching out Gregg Simmons it missed his target entirely but as a consolation beat Lindley and ended up in the corner of the net.

Hucknall took a while to recover from that and it was Callum Lloyd who next threatened on 70 minutes when he headed a Reid cross straight at Andrew.

Gregory then had another pop, this time a stinging half-volley which would probably have severely damaged anyone who got in the way of it, so it was probably a good job it was just too high for heads and crossbar.

Aidan Brady blasted a shot hardly worthy of the name high, wide and not that handsome with 12 minutes left as the hosts continued to search for an equaliser, a triple substitution soon following to inject some fresh legs into proceedings.

But it made little difference as despite late pressure from the hosts, Eastwood held on for a rare and welcome victory.