Last game was Trophy triumph

NMAC11-2634-1'Rainworth v Hucknall Town
NMAC11-2634-1'Rainworth v Hucknall Town

AMID all the hullabaloo surrounding Hucknall Town’s latest upheaval, it might get forgotten that they actually played a football match last Saturday. And they won it.

But at least the record books will tell us that Tommy Brookbanks’s final game in charge of Town was a 2-1 victory at Rainworth Miners Welfare in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy.

OK, it was a far cry from The Yellows’ most memorable flirtation with the Trophy. Oh, those heady days of 2005! ‘Is This The Way To Aston Villa’ and all that?

But at least the result, against their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South rivals and Nottinghamshire neighbours, underlined the strides Town are making this term.

The win was expected. Rainworth, managed by ex-Yellows boss Billy Millar, are struggling — despite the presence in their squad of two players who starred for Hucknall at Villa Park, Danny Bacon and Chris Timons, plus ex-Yellows and Notts County defender Tommy Hannigan and Mansfield Town academy youngsters Joel Holland and Adam Somes.

Indeed The Wrens went into the tie on the back of a goal drought spanning more than 370 minutes.

But it was still pleasing to see Town go about their business so professionally — especially as they were without goalkeeper James Lindley, who was unavailable.

And goals from striker Grant Ryan and wide man Aidan Brady earned a First Round tie away to another of their divisional rivals, Leek Town, a week tomorrow (Saturday October 22).

Bacon was lively for Rainworth, who shaded a goalless first half and created the best chance when a point-blank effort by Lavell White was blocked on the line.

Only in the closing minutes did Town begin to threaten, with Ryan shooting straight at ‘keeper Joe McCormack when released by Nathan Watson.

But within five minutes of the restart, they were ahead as Ryan capitalised on a mistake by Hannigan to fire low into the corner from the edge of the area.

Town thought they had doubled their lead moments later when Ryan pounced after McCormack could only parry a shot on the run from Watson, who was again impressive.

But Rainworth were saved by a linesman’s flag and should have taken advantage when Sean Cann blasted over from eight yards after good work by Bacon.

At the other end, Watson should have done much better too when rounding the ‘keeper but electing to smash his shot, rather than place it, enabling Hannigan to block.

However Town began to turn the screw and netted the all-important second goal in the 78th minute when Brady latched on to a precise through ball from Callum Lloyd and drew McCormack before slotting past him.

The goal tempted Brookbanks to make a couple of changes, withdrawing Watson and Brady in favour of young Joel Goodacre and new signing Paul Gamble.

And it nearly backfired when Rainworth halved the deficit five minutes from the end — substitute Somes, who has scored more than 20 goals already this season for The Stags’ youth team, marking his debut with a brave header from close range after Cann’s cross.

But even though the home side probed for an equaliser, the Town defence looked as solid as it has done for most of the season and the tie was won.