NEW boy David Graham struck his first goals for the club as Hucknall Town marched into the semi-finals of the Notts FA Senior County Cup on Tuesday night (March 1).
The veteran former professional netted in the 33rd and 53rd minutes to send East Midland Counties League side Greenwood Meadows packing to ease their woes near the foot of the Evo-Stik League.
In front of a miserly crowd of 55, The Yellows were far too strong for their opponents, who play four levels below them on the non-league ladder, and came away with a resounding 4-1 win.
Tommy Brookbanks’ side will now be dreaming of their first piece of silverware since the 2003/04 season when they won the Unibond League, Premier Division, as well as this competition.
That year was the last time Town lifted the Senior Cup, a trophy they have won six times in the past.
The other three quarter-finals are to be played on different dates later this month, so Town might not find out their last-four opponents until after the last tie of the round on Tuesday March 22 between Dunkirk and Wollaton.
Competition favourites Eastwood Town travel to Gedling Miners Welfare for their quarter-final clash next Tuesday (March 8).
Against Greenwood, who sit halfway down their league table, Brookbanks brought back defender Grant Brindley, who had spent the last two games on the substitutes’ bench. He replaced James Jepson, with Joe Pheasant moving to left-back.
In goal was new signing Martin Kearney, who made a few previous appearances for The Yellows under Dean Barrick. He replaced the previously ever-present Ross Whalin, who was injured in a car-crash on Monday morning.
Josh Burge and Jared Holmes were preferred to Dean Gent and Callum Lloyd in midfield.
Town never looked back once an own goal by a star of the now-defunct, all-conquering Bulwell Sunday side Scots Grey had given them the lead.
Juree Staples was a Greys hero when he scored a last-gasp equaliser in the final of the FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup at Anfield against Liverpool-based outfit Oyster Martyrs in April 2009.
His header deep into injury-time levelled the scores at 2-2 before an Alan Jeffries double in extra-time secured a memorable 4-3 win for the Dispatch district side.
But on Tuesday, the defender was a villain of the piece when he put through his own net in the sixth minute to give Town the advantage.
The Yellows doubled their lead in the 20th minute when Anthony Griffith Junior fired past ‘keeper Ryan Murphy from the edge of the box.
It was virtually game over when former Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday striker Graham (32) tapped the ball home from six yards after fellow ex-pro Tris Whitman had raced into the box and crossed.
Whitman, who is now Town’s top scorer this season with ten, almost made it 4-0 minutes later but his curler was tipped on to the crossbar by Murphy.
Greenwood pulled a goal back six minutes into the second oeriod when striker Jordan Prance found space to fire past Kearney.
But Town’s three-goal advantage was restored only two minutes later when Graham knocked home from close range again — this time from Fabian Smith’s cross.
The tie went flat after that as Greenwood sensed they were out/ But it sparked into life again in the 80th minute when the visitors’ winger Craig Meakin was sent off for swearing at referee David Hunt.