Hucknall Town FC v Sherwood Colliery FC
Central Midlands League Cup Round Two
Hucknall Town FC, formed in 1943 as Hucknall Colliery Welfare, play in their 4000 capacity stadium. Financial woes saw them drop from a place in the Conference North, to the Central Midlands League via a short spell in the Northern Premier League. For most involved with Hucknall Town, the fact that the club is still alive has been a miracle, and a blessing. Former managers include Ernie Moss, Kevin Wilson, Des Lyttle and a man I respect very highly, Danny Bryant.
Sherwood Colliery, formed in 2008, play at Debdale Park in Mansfield Woodhouse. They joined the Central Midlands League in 2012 and have slowly progressed to be one of the “big four” clubs in the league, the others being Pinxton, Eastwood and the opposition for this game, Hucknall Town.
I’ll admit, visiting Watnall Road wasn’t something I’d do regularly when the club were in the Northern Premier League. I grew up watching Central Midlands League football, then ventured slowly up to watching higher levels. If I’m right, my first visit to Watnall Road was for a pre-season friendly with Mansfield Town back in 2011, if not a little later.
The ground has plenty of charm, but if I’m honest, as soon as The Yellows had signed the agreement to move to a new ground (just over the road) the upkeep of the current facility slipped from being a main priority. The ground echoes of the past, and I mean that will all due respect, the ground is still a fantastic facility for a step seven club. The team shows signs of being a title contender and have done for a year or two now.
The thing is… so do Sherwood Colliery. Both managers are well respected in the local area and both have built very competitive squads.
Add all that together and you have a great league cup tie, being played at an old-school ground filled with character.
I’d have looked seriously at attending this fixture without being on the CMFL League Management Committee, but giving us the opportunity to cover two fixtures on the league social media, it was an opportunity not to be missed.
The game tonight had added spice. Shaun Smith is a striker who played for South Normanton FC in 2016-17 and scoring 20 goals in 18 appearances. Shaun went for pre-season training with both Hucknall and Sherwood in the summer, opting to sign for Hucknall. A week ago he signed for Sherwood.
Due to CMFL rules, Shaun couldn’t play tonight as he hadn’t signed in time to be selected for the League Cup. This arguably meant that his former club were missing a front man, but so were his new club.
12 months ago to the day I found myself in Rocester, seeing Heanor lose in the MFL League Cup. It was about 4 degrees all night, or as I would call it, bloomin’ freezing!
Tonight wasn’t much warmer!
Hucknall started well, both full backs engaging in attacking play and Joe Ashurst leading the line well, it was really no shock when Ashurst put The Yellows ahead, his effort hitting the cross bar before crossing the line.
Sherwood couldn’t argue about being behind, but in fairness, they couldn’t do much about it in what remained of the first half. At one point, Hucknall had advanced so high up the field that Sherwood had a back six… but even with this happening in the first period, there was still a feeling about the place that if Sherwood got one goal, Hucknall wouldn’t recover.
I’ve never been in a changing rooms at half time, but I’d expect water, squash or energy drinks to be the drinks of choice. Hucknall seemed to have Horlicks, their pace and speed of play in the first half simply couldn’t be replicated. Sherwood were slowly taking control.
We had a brief moment where both keepers showed their worth. Sherwood could have, and in any other game, would have got the equaliser but for an excellent save at point blank range. The ball ended up in the Sherwood box just seconds later, Ashurst rifled his shot towards the near post but another fantastic save kept the score at 1-0.
Sherwood had both central defenders forward to attack a corner, it’s lucky they stayed forward as the corner wasn’t even cleared beyond the edge of the box. Sherwood’s skilful number nine whipped the ball back in, Jobe Shaw nodded the ball home from close range, his header totally unchallenged. The game came back to life!
This game had been a battle from minute one and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. I did have the feeling that with it being as cold as it was, extra time wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience.
The winner came just a couple of minutes from time, described by Sherwood’s manager as a smash and grab win. A strong save from Mike Randall in Hucknall’s goal stopped the ball going in the net initially, but he could only palm the ball in to the path of Ewan Robson who slid the ball in to the goal.
Some strong words from areas of the Hucknall support towards the referee as he left the pitch. The criticism seemed odd as in my humble opinion, the man in black had actually favoured them throughout the match. Football fans eh?!