Hucknall Town’s Watnall Road ground is a mere five minute car journey, but I left home early hoping to secure a parking spot at the ground, rather than parking over the road on Aerial Way. I think that after Christmas it will be me leaving early to try and secure a parking spot on Aerial Way, after the club makes it’s long awaited relocation to it’s new home!
I parked on the training pitch at the back of the stadium, where both teams were going through their warm up routines. Hucknall had the normal-ish compliment of bodies (15-16), but there seemed to be an awful lot of Carlton players warming up, probably enough for two teams. As it transpired, they did have a few trialists on show, and at the start of the second half made a heck of a lot of changes to the team that played the first forty-five. Had a quick chat with Wayne Morrison and said hello to Carlton stalwart Brian Dennett – not seen him for a while. Walked over to the far side of the ground to sit with Paul and Maurice McFarland in front of the old press box. The Hucknall team was as expected, but the Carlton line-up was a mystery – even Mr. Dennett couldn’t help put some names to numbers.
Yellows: Randall - Maxwell, Pitt, Leak, Jenkins – Brian, Banister, Phillips, Whitt, Crawford – Smith. Subs :- Goodacre (Phillips), Beddingham (Randall), Galtand (Pitt), Henry (Jenkins), Hodgson (Whitt).
Carlton: First half: Danny Rigley, Robbie McNicholas, Curtis Gregory, Danny Elliott, Kieran Walker, Lawrence Gorman, Ben Wallace, Brandon Mptuvu, Mason Coy, Wilfried Gnahore, Danny Gordon.
Second half: Jack Steggles, Darol Lucas, Daniel Fletcher, Eddie Schoenecker, Jake Carlisle, Gorman, Jack Oldham, Matthew Newton, Jordan Wilson, Mark Faflik, Gnahore (Kyle Stovell 67)
The first 25 minutes saw the step 7 home team more than compete with their step 4 opponents, but a defensive lapse in the 27 minute gave Carlton’s no. 10 Wilfred space in the box, and his superb cross to the far stick gave the unmarked Danny Elliott a simple tap in.The Millers’ lead lasted barely five minutes though, their hesitant defending giving Ashley Whitt time to pick out Shaun Smith some 12 yards from goal, and the hit-man smashed the ball gleefully home with his left peg.
Carlton were back in front on 36 when Wilfred was able to hold off a challenge, run into the box and roll the ball past Randall. Again the lead didn’t last too long, as right on half time Matt Brian picked out Smith inside the area and once again the prolific striker smashed the ball past the Carlton keeper. H-T 2-2
As mentioned earlier, Carlton made wholesale changes for the second half, whilst Hucknall made four. Obviously so many changes will have an effect, but the pace was still relentless and the only surprise was that we had to wait until the hour mark for the next goal!
This time, a long ball forward from the Carlton backline landed at the feet of Faflik, and the Millers’ number 17 ran into the area before slotting under James Beddingham in the Yellows’ goal to make it 2-3. Both teams were intent on attacking at all costs, and for a PSF this was a real treat.
The next two goals though were the icing on a very, very nice cake! With 15 to play and Hucknall striving for the equaliser, the Carlton defense were no doubt pleased to see the ball hacked well away from in front of their goal. Their pleasure was short-lived though as Montel Gatland ran onto the ball some 30-35 yards from goal and belted it straight as an arrow into the top corner! The ball never deviated from it’s path and the Carlton keeper could only watch in admiration and wave bye-bye as the ball flew past him. What a strike – already a contender for goal of the season!
Adam Nelson’s strike on the 80th minute will also be touted as a contender – the striker raced to get to the ball with a Carlton defender and after winning the race hit a sweet volley on the run that again gave the stopper no chance. Two delicious strikes that took the home team from a goal down to a winning position, and some solid defending in the last ten secured the home teams victory. F-T 4-3.
Were Carlton at full strength? I have no idea, but I do know that the record books will show that CMFL Hucknall beat Evo-Stik Div One Carlton. I think that if the Yellows can perform like this week in, week out, they have to be among the favourites to win the 2017-18 league title.