“Far From Over” Says Furnell

It’s already been a somewhat pivotal week at the top of the United Counties Division One as, ahead of this weekend’s local derby with West Bridgford (on Non-League Day), a brace of quick-fore victories have fired Kimberley Miners Welfare six points clear of Hinckley.

Having been undefeated at home, and putting together an undefeated streak stretching back to mid-November, Hinckley were flying at the top of the division, however, back-to-back defeats, away to Belper United, and at home to Radford, both by a 2-0 score, have derailed them of late.

Meanwhile, the Ant Ward/Graham Furnell combination at The Stag has seen them continue their rich vein of form; as Hinckley were dropping points, Kimberley were continuing to win, taking their current run to nine wins-in-a-row.

The past week alone has seen them rack up eleven goals, from two away games, when seeing off first Barrow Town (3-0) then Birstall United Social (8-0), where the goals were spread about the team, Aaron Coyle with a double alongside goals from Tom Eccleshall, Luis Rose, Samuel Brown, Nathan Banton, and substitutes Ryan Whitehurst and Blaise Duruaku.

Looking back on the past weeks’ successes, Graham Furnell said first, of the win at Barrow: “It was the banana skin we feared most and, having watched them recently, they kept me awake a couple of nights the previous week.

“Barrow played with no fear and took the game to us from the offset, but without creating any clear-cut chances, whilst enough to remind us they were a threat.

“At half-time though, the message was the same as it has been in recent weeks, to remain patient and keep playing in the right areas and we were confident that we would create a chance or two.”

A Sacha Markelic hat-trick, combined with defeat for Hinckley, opened up a three-point advantage for Kimberley at the top of the table.

“Credit to Barrow though, who continued to charge forward and looked dangerous, especially when sending in a barrage of crosses, but, with Danny Rigley on fine form, the big ‘keeper commanded his area well.”

Then came Birstall away, under the midweek lights, and, like the weekend trip to Barrow, one in which the Kimberley management had highlighted as being a potential banana-skin.

“Birstall beat us convincingly at our place earlier in the season (2-1 in late October) and we reminded the lads of this in the build-up,” continued Graham, whose side were two goals to the good at the break, Eccleshall and Rose having netted.

“Quick fire goals from skipper Brown, and a brace from Coyle, gave us a cushion and the chance to wrap a few players up in cotton wool.

“We brought on Ryan Whitehurst to add experience, and a cool head, and it wasn’t long before he was in on the act as well, nodding in after good work from the flank.

“This was quickly followed by a goal each from Duruaku, and the ever-dangerous Banton making it seven different scorers, and our second clean sheet this week.”

With those two wins under the belt, Kimberley now have a local affair on what is this seasons’ Non-League Day, welcoming seventeenth place West Bridgford to The Stag on Saturday (26 March) afternoon.

When the two sides met back in mid-September, at Regatta Way, Kimberley would romp to a comfortable, 4-0 win, Coyle with a brace alongside goals from Josh Barr-Rostron, and Sam Brown.

Having collected thirteen wins from their thirty-seven league outings, West Bridgford find themselves seventeen points above third-bottom Blackstones, but with a game in hand on those around them at the wrong end of the table.

“After two games on the road it will be nice to get back to playing at home again,” added Graham.

“It’s also Non-League Day, but we’re putting a different twist on it and have invited all of our sponsors to attend the game as a thank you for their continued support over the season.

“We’re also inviting all junior players of both Kimberley, and our partners from Priory Celtic, to attend the game in their match shirts.

“West look to have added a few new faces, noticeably last weekends’ hat trick hero, Louis Nicholson, from Basford U21s, and Fin Gaynor, who had a brief spell in our squad earlier in the season.

“They arrive on the back of a 4-2 victory from their last home game (against Birstall) so will have some renewed confidence.

“We have two or three we need to check on fitness-wise before selecting the squad for Saturday but they will be assessed at training and we won’t be taking any risks with anyone.

“It’s been a really good week for us, but we also know that, with just six games to go, and eighteen points still up for grabs, it’s far from over.”

Keep up-to-date with the title run-in, and all the happenings at The Stag, via Twitter and you can read another recent interview with Graham Furnell here.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @DuffersSport Furnell has enjoyed “a really good week” but knows his job has just started.

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