Yellows set for a derby double
The Yellows host Eastwood at Watnall Road this Saturday before the return fixture at the PSUSA Arena a week later.
And it’ll be a case of hoping for third time lucky in the first of those two encounters with a 4-1 FA Vase defeat back in September and then a 3-0 Floodlit Cup loss to reflect on.
Yellows boss Andy Graves said: “In all honesty, I wouldn’t read too much into either of those games because we weren’t really at full strength in both cases, especially the Floodlit Cup game.
“But even so, Eastwood are a very good side who are having a great season, including a good run in the FA Vase like we did last year.
“They’ve lost their last couple of games in the cup so may be vulnerable but these are two big games that will have a big bearing on the promotion race.”
Hucknall’s cause isn’t helped by the fact that they haven’t played a game in any competition since December 2, with Graves fearing their subsequent rustiness may not do them any favours.
He said: “It’s been frustrating because whilst the weather put paid to a couple of games, we were also given free weekends by the league in the fixture list so it hasn’t done us much good.
“We played a friendly game on Wednesday night but still didn’t have a particularly strong side out and to be quite honest we were garbage, so if we play like that again at the weekend we’ll be in trouble.
“I’m confident we’ll be OK though as we will have some key players back and the importance of the game and the local derby aspect should inspire the players too.
“Fitness wise, not playing is bound to play a part but hopefully we’ll not have as many free weekends now and can build that up.”
Graves says he may still look to bolster his squad further in the new year as the Yellows aim to maintain their challenge for the title.
They currently third, six points behind leaders Sherwood Colliery and with two games in hand, although Eastwood in fourth are nine points behind Sherwood with four games in hand, emphasising how things could still change dramatically.
Graves said: “We brought in Bermudian striker Tevahn Tyrell up front and I think he’ll be a good player for us at this level having played a few times for Ilkeston in the Evo-Stik Premier over the last two seasons.
“We lost Shaun Smith to Sherwood as we simply couldn’t compete on a financial level with them and sure enough he’s gone on to score plenty of goals for them since.
“So if anybody wants to help us out by stumping up some cash for better players then let me know!”