Yellows survive Senior Cup bruiser

HUCKNALL Town scraped into the next round of the competition
HUCKNALL Town scraped into the next round of the competition

BATTLE-worn Hucknall Town fought back from a goal down to squeeze through to the quarter-finals of the Notts FA Senior County Cup on Wednesday night (February 2).

The Yellows were forced to feel the brunt of some roughhouse treatment by a physical Blidworth Welfare side. But they showed their mettle as two goals in the last 18 minutes from Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale and Callum Lloyd secured a bruising 2-1 win.

Blidworth play five levels below Town on the non-league ladder. But they are flying high in the Central Midlands League’s Supreme Division and made their intentions clear with a series of hefty challenges at the Welfare Ground, which resulted in them receiving SIX bookings in the first half alone from Giltbrook referee Craig Langton.

Last season’s Town side might have taken the bait but Tommy Brookbanks’ team kept their discipline and showed their class with a dominant performance after the interval to win 2-1.

The Yellows have now been given a home tie in the last eight — against Greenwood Meadows, of the East Midland Counties League. The match has been pencilled in for Tuesday March 1.

Brookbanks has made it clear that he will be pulling out all the stops to win the Senior Cup, given his previous bad luck in it with former club Carlton Town.

“I lost three semi-finals on penalties with Carlton,” said Brookbanks. “So it is a trophy I really want to win!”

Brookbanks made three changes to the side that lost 4-1 to FC United of Manchester in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division on Saturday January 22.

Grant Brindley replaced Martin Ball in the centre of defence, Tris Whitman was preferred to Rob Gill up front and David Boafo dropped to the substitutes’ bench in favour of Anthony Griffith Junior, with Fabian Smith reverting to right-back.

In front of a measly crowd of just 68, Blidworth made sure Town knew they were in for a game from the first whistle.

For the first yellow card came as early as the fifth minute when Blidworth centre-half Liam Pride clattered Nightingale.

With the wind at their backs, the home side carved out a chance when speedy winger Carl Haslam twisted into the penalty box but saw his shot smothered by ‘keeper Ross Whalin.

While at the other end, Town’s own nippy winger, Griffith Junior, had a smart effort saved by ‘keeper Jason Fisher.

Blidworth grabbed the lead four minutes before the interval when a mistake by Smith let in Haslam, who bundled the ball home.

But whatever was said by Brookbanks and his cohorts at half-time certainly did the trick as The Yellows flew out of the blocks to control the second 45 minutes.

Nightingale was the first to test Fisher after the break, although another mistake by Smith almost let in Haslam, who was foiled by Whalin to nullify the danger.

Fisher then made two quickfire stops from the impressive Nightingale before a double substitution in the 67th minute really swung the tie Town’s way.

Gill was straight into the action when he got on the end of a Griffith Junior cross to force Fisher into another save.

By now, Town were bossing proceedings, with Blidworth no threat going forward and struggling to get out of their own half.

On 72 minutes, the visitors got their reward when Nightingale finished a Dion Chambers cross from close range to level the scores.

And five minutes later came the winner as a fierce Nightingale effort could only be parried by Fisher, finding ex-Mansfield Town man Lloyd, who was on hand to fire home.

Lloyd went close again when a shot from a Gill cross was saved at the near post as the home side tired.

But stoppage time saw Blidworth almost equalise as substitute Simon Ellison beat the offside trap. Thankfully Whalin was equal to the task and palmed his shot away.