Town go from despair to play-off places!

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON -- Nathan Watson, who scored two goals in last Saturday's win over Sutton Coldfield Town -- DISPIC NHUD11-2271-6
ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON -- Nathan Watson, who scored two goals in last Saturday's win over Sutton Coldfield Town -- DISPIC NHUD11-2271-6

WHEN relegated Hucknall Town were languishing in their midsummer crisis, it was beyond their wildest dreams that they could be sitting in the promotion play-off places only two months into the new season.

But after a couple of terrific victories at Watnall Road in the last week, that’s exactly where they are.

High-riding Sutton Coldfield Town were beaten 3-1 before last season’s North-West Counties League champions New Mills were defeated 1-0 on Wednesday night (October 5).

And that left The Yellows in fifth place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South table, just four points behind leaders Sheffield.

All a far cry from only weeks ago when they were still bemoaning last season’s drop from the top flight and the fact that they had no money to pay players.

Managers Tommy Brookbanks and Gary Stones unveiled a new 4-5-1 formation for the two matches, to combat the midfield strength of Sutton and New Mills. And it worked a treat, with Nathan Watson and Aidan Brady floating as supplementary strikers when necessary.

Watson bagged two crucial goals in the win over Coldfield, while Brady scored the only goal of the victory on Wednesday night.

After the champagne display last Saturday, Town’s efforts against Derbyshire outfit New Mills were more workmanlike on a wet and windy night.

But they got the job done and it was particularly pleasing that New Mills, a team blessed with revered firepower, rarely threatened to puncture a solid Yellows back four.

In fact, there were few chances at either end in the opening half. James Lindley twice saved well from Carlos Meakin, while Matt Baxter and Grant Ryan got on the end of openings at the other end.

Town continued to work their socks off in the second half, closing down the visitors as they passed the ball around. And their graft was rewarded by the winning goal in the 71st minute.

Ryan, manfully ploughing a lone furrow up front, held the ball up before Baxter broke from midfield and got beyond the Millers’ defence for a cross. Neither goalkeeper nor defender could deal with the ball and there was Brady, bravely sliding in to knock it home.

Ryan almost doubled the lead five minutes later when pouncing on more hesitancy between ‘keeper Ben Proctor and defender Otis Gorman.

But Town’s confidence was plain to see in the closing stages, with skipper Wayne Diuk, who was again outstanding, and Romaine Graham, who continues to improve, forming a solid foundation at the heart of the rearguard.

New Mills forced three late corners but The Yellows were content to run the clock down.