Thank the heavens for non-league football following a day which saw Nottingham Forest dumped out of the FA Cup away to Blackpool, and Mansfield Town drop points at home to Barrow Town in League Two, Nottinghamshire’s non-league contingent, for their part, were showing the way forward.
Led by National League leaders, Notts County, extending their lead at the top of the non-league pyramid to five points, following a comfortable, 3-0 win at Aldershot, others followed suit in collecting victories of their own.
Well, that’s below the Pitching In Northern and Southern Premier League’s, clubs there were on the wrong end of their results as Carlton lost 2-0 at home to Grimsby Borough, and Basford, they were on the wrong end of a 6-2 defeat away to Leiston.
In the Uhlsport United Counties Premier Division North, led by runaway leaders, Loughborough Students, the first of the Notts clubs is that of Newark & Sherwood United (37), still in contention at the top end having held fifth spot following their 2-2 draw on the road at lowly Wisbech Town, Nyle Blake netting early in the first and Ainsley Finney late in the second, to earn a share of the spoils.
They’re sharply followed by both Sherwood Colliery and Kimberley Miners Welfare, level on 36 points apiece after the former won 2-0 at home to Sleaford Townm thanks to a goal in each half off Gareth Curtis and Jobe Shaw, and the latter were held to a goalless draw away to Skegness Town, they directly beneath the two Notts clubs, in ninth place.
At the opposite end of the table, Eastwood CFC and AFC Mansfield are in the bottom four, Terry Artem netting for the former in a 5-1 loss at home to Anstey Nomads, for whom Michael Reeve bagged a second half brace, and the latter, they fell to a 3-0 loss when home to Heanor Town.
Division One sees Newark Town joint-second following their midweek, 4-0 win, away to Grantham Town following a second half goal-blitz whilst Saturday, and with sides having games in hand on Newark, Hucknall Town see themselves holding the last, play-off spot, in fifth.,
Edging visitors, sixth bottom Harrowby United, 3-2, in front of a near 400-strong crowd, the Yellows, who’ll be hoping for a promotion push themselves heading into the second half of the season, found themselves a goal down at the break.
Kieran Knight however got the hosts back into contention early in the second period, before goals in the closing twenty, from Aaron Lamb and Kai Wilson, ensured the points stayed in Nottingham.
The visitors would lead with a little under ten minutes remaining in the first half, however, within minutes of the restart, the hosts were back on level terms, Knight finishing from six yards out after a great cross from Craig Westcarr.
Turning the game around, the hosts then took a two-goal lead with a pair hitting the back of the net just after the hour mark; the first, following great work from Oliver Brown, saw Westcarr’s effort come back off the post, only for Lamb to follow up and finish.
Minutes later and the Yellows were 3-1 to the good, this time Knight turning provider for Wilson, the visitors making a real go of things with a second of their own in the closing minutes, then hitting the post at the death as they sought an equaliser, Hucknall holding on for a valuable, three points.
Hucknall – Louis Kinnerley, Louis Tomlinson, Oliver Brown, Sam Sims, Aaron Shorts, Billy Brooks, Kieran Knight, Kai Wilson (Cayne Maxwell, 80), Craig Westcarr (Jamie Crawford, 77), Joe Ashurst, Aaron Lamb (Joe Butler, 66)
Directly beneath Hucknall in the table is a further three, Notts clubs, in Clipstone, Radford, and Dunkirk; Clipstone won a local affair, 3-1 at home to mid-table Clifton All Whites, the hosts netting through Ryan Ingram, Eden Homer, and Jack Gibb, Aboo Bakr Younis with the reply, whilst Radford were held to a 2-2 draw in their local clash with lowly Southwell City, Sacha Markelic with a brace for the Pheasants, Liam Moran and Ben Selby replying, and Dunkirk were also held, they 1-1 at Bourne Town, Lamin Manneh netting.
In the bottom half of the table, Rainworth Miners Welfare won 3-1 at home to St Andrews, Benjamin Copestake with a brace, Gedling Miners Welfare won by the same when away to Holwell Sports, and West Bridgford collected a shock, 5-2 win, when hosting fourth place Birstall United.
Leading 2-1 at the break, through goals from Josh Crowl and Nicholas Knight, lowly West Bridgford snatched a big win with three further goals, in the closing fifteen minutes, as Rav Jackson, Klaudio Marqeshi, and Ashley Butterworth, all netted.
Retford, and Ollerton Town, both collected home victories in the Northern Counties East Division One, the former as Adam Scott’s brace saw off Glasshoughton Welfare, and the latter, a 3-1 win over Staveley Miners Welfare with Will Tomlinson, Jack Johnson, and Charlie Baird, all netting.
Retford United meanwhile are sixteen unbeaten (fifteen wins and a draw, fourteen points clear) atop of the Central Midlands Premier North after they eased to a 3-0 win away to Harworth Colliery, Mark West closing in on a century of goals for the Badgers with a hat-trick, and mid-table side, SJR Worksop, edged visiting Bakewell Town, 3-02, Matthew Templeton at the double.
The Badgers, they’ll face Collingham in the next round of their defence of the Notts FA Senior Trophy, Collingham having seen off visiting Wollaton, of the Nottinghamshire Senior League Premier Division, on penalties, following a battling, 3-3 draw.
Meanwhile, in the Notts Senior League, Keyworth United are top of the Premier Division following their narrow, 3-2 win away to third place Sandiacre Town, Jahred Russell’s double seeing the leaders with a three-point advantage, and a game in hand, on second place Woodthorpe Park Rangers, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Stapleford Town.
FC Sex, in fourth, won 3-2 away to AFC Dunkirk and, with Wollaton fifth, Top Valley and Borrowash Victoria sixth and seventh respectively, it’s tight at the top, five points splitting second and seventh.
Just four points separate the top six sides in Division One as well, the top two of East Leake Robins and Southwell City Reserves, separated by goal difference, although the Robins do have a game in hand with both sides winning on Saturday; East Leake eased to a 5-2 win at home to Radford Reserves, and Southwell won 3-1 at home to FC Cavaliers.
In other news, and with a tinge of deep sadness, the Nottinghamshire non-league scene was rocked this past week following the passing of the stalwart figure that is Malcolm ‘Malc’ Storer.
A go-to for grasshoppers, fans, and journalists alike, Malc, who ran the ‘On The Road’ website here and twitter handle @ontheroadblog would have had a slight giggle to see his name, at one point, trending on social media.
However, he was that kind of guy that deserved as much, and was a regular at pretty much all grassroots clubs, non-league, Sunday league, women’s, he found his spot somewhere so, the tributes that followed his passing, on 4 January, continue to flow.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in memory of a man who was simply, LEGENDARY and can be donated to here.
Malcolm, you will be more than missed, by more people than you’ll probably ever realise – sir, we salute you!
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NottsSeniorLge Malcolm Storer will be missed across the non league scene of Nottinghamshire.