The play-offs are now set in stone in the United Counties League Division One after Saturday’s (23 April) season ending round of matches, and two Nottinghamshire clubs, Hucknall Town and Radford, are into the final four, for the chance to join Kimberley Miners Welfare in next season’s Premier Division.
Both have tough matches to overcome in their respective semi-finals, and both on the road when, this coming Saturday, fifth place Hucknall make the trip to runners-up Hinckley (they finished the season on 103 points), whilst fourth place Radford travel to third place Belper United, the pair having only been separated by a point during the regular season.
On Saturday gone, at Hucknall’s Watnall Road home, they overcame visiting Kirby Muxloe, who finished ninth, to book the Hinckley trip, captain Aaron Short opening the scoring for the Yellows on the stroke of half-time, poking home a rebound after Butler’s header was saved by the visiting ‘keeper.
The lead was double minutes later when, early in the second period, a beautiful through-ball from Banister slotted into the path of Jamie Crawford, who looped his effort over the Kirby ‘keeper, and into the net, affording the hosts a little breathing space.
A result not in doubt, the hosts would then add a third, with a little over twenty minutes remaining after a run, and finish, from Joe Butler, sealed the points; Butler would be seen to collect the ball in his own half, before setting off, and finishing with a chip into goal.
Lining up for Hucknall in their last game of regular season was – Louis Kinnerley, Cayne Maxwell, Oliver Brown, Sam Sims, Aaron Short, Jordan Philips, Jamie Crawford, Michael Banister, Craig Westcarr, Joe Butler, Joe Ashurst
A goalless first half at Selhurst Street meanwhile, burst into life after the break as Radford edged a local affair with visiting Gedling Miners Welfare 2-1, the first forty-five being a rather, stop-start affair.
In fact, it would not be until the final ten minutes that the deadlock was eventually broken, and it would be the visitors who’d do so, it coming immediately after they’d hot the crossbar with a Ross McCaughey free-kick; Pablo Piliero poking the ball over the home shot-stopper to open the scoring.
The Pheasants though, they mustered together an equaliser with five minutes remaining, before snatching the winner with three left on the clock.
The first was an assist from Conor Moore, Errol Campbell on hand to flick the ball into the goal, before Moore gets himself on the score-sheet, hammering home from the edge of the box, curling into the Gedling net to cap a dramatic finale.
The two sides lined up for this end-of-season, derby finale, with Radford as – Yinka Adebowale, David Adegbola, Emem Jones, Conor Moore, Joe McLaughlin, Craig Meakin, Joe Meakin, Jermain Hollis, Callum Smith, Errol Campbell, Will Bailey; meanwhile Gedling MW would see – Louis Richardson, Nathaniel Appiah, Paolo Piliero, Ross McCaughey, Liam Corrigan, Charlie Roberts, Niall Hylton, Felix Hogg, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, Josh Thornton, Oliver Papworth
Division One champions, Kimberley MW, they finished their season in style with a 6-0 win away to mid-table St Andrews, Luis Rose with a four-goal salvo to finish the season on 46 goals, Ryan Whitehurst and Jordan Smith also scoring.
Smith’s goal was to be a fitting end to the season, he returning to the fray after a long spell on the sidelines following injury, coming on for the final ten minutes; the season overall would see Kimbo finish, as champions, with an impressive 112 points, a goal-difference of +104, and finish nine points clear of second place Hinckley.
The remainder of Notts sides results in UCL Division One saw Clifton AW win 1-0 away to Lutterworth, West Bridgford held to a 3-3 draw with visitors Ingles as Zac Hill notched two for the hosts, and Dunkirk lose 2-1 at home to Saffron Dynamo.
Jumping back up the football pyramid, and the county’s Northern Premier League sides all suffered defeat with Basford United crashing to a 4-0 reverse away to Witton Albion, Worksop Town lost 2-0 at home to Liversedge, and Carlton Town crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Stamford.
In the UCL Premier North, Selston finished their season up with a narrow, 1-0 home win over visiting Loughborough Students, captain Ben Moore with the goal; the three sides lived to fight another season in the division with Eastwood (14), Selston (15), and Newark (16), of an eighteen-team division, the latter finishing a point above relegated Pinchbeck United.
Newark Town meanwhile continued their march towards the Central Midlands League Premier North title thanks to a narrow, 1-0 win, at fellow challengers, Clay Cross Town, captain Lewis Chambers with the only goal of the game.
Meanwhile, second place Retford United kept up their slim hopes of championship success with a 3-0 derby success at SJR Worksop; a goalless first half would see two goals netted in the first fifteen of the second, Owen Fieldsend, and a Mark West penalty, making for a comfortable second period.
A third goal, and the three points, was wrapped up late on, when Dean Conway added himself to the scoresheet, the Badgers needing to win their last, remaining game, away to Club Thorne Colliery, to stand a chance.
Of the other title contenders, Newark lead by two (from second place Retford), and have two games still to play; Clay Cross in third, they also have two to play and are three points off top; whilst Club Thorne, in fourth, have three to play (last two at home to Clay Cross, and Retford), and are just five points off Newark.
In the CML South meanwhile, Linby Colliery Welfare sit in seventh place after they were held to a 2-2 draw away to Rowsley 86, Sherwood Colliery Reserves were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Teversal Reserves, whilst lowly Mansfield Hosiery Mills crashed to a 6-0 defeat when away to Mickleover Reserves.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @HucknallTownFC Veteran striker Craig Westcarr in action for Hucknall against Kirby Muxloe.