Hucknall Town warmed up for Saturday’s mouthwatering Central Midlands League Cup semi-final against North Division leaders FC Bolsover this week with a 1-0 win against Swanwick on Saturday and a 1-1 draw against Matlock Town Reserves on Tuesday.
The club’s biggest concern right now is the lack of confidence among the strikers after a glut of missed chances.
Hucknall boss Andy Graves said: “I thought we did well against Swanwick, who are a very good side, well organised, and will hurt you if you switch off.
“Again we created enough opportunities, but we were still snatching at chances and just need to relax and find a little more composure and not over-think things in front of goal.
“Early season we just took everything on, but there is still a confidence issue amongst the strikers – this was so evident against Matlock on Tuesday.
“How we have not scored double figures over the two games is unbelievable.
“AD’s (Adam Nelson) confidence wont have been helped with the chances missed in the first half.
“I couldn’t care less about what people say or write about us and refereeing decisions, but we have had some shockers go against recently.
“They say they even out over a season so we are due some shockers of our own big time and we are going to give someone a hiding when it clicks in front of goal.”
On this Saturday’s big game, he added: “Scoring doesn’t appear to be a problem for FC Bolsover who must be favourites for the semi-final.
“But I doubt they have played anyone like us in the North Division – maybe we were keeping our powder dry in front of them last night?”
Had Hucknall’s CML South game at Matlock on Tuesday been a boxing match it would have been halted at half-time – but the game ended in a draw.
Matlock managed just one shot in the first half which whistled by Mike Randall’s near post.
But the Yellows again created chance after chance with Adam Nelson guilty of missing four good opportunities, Matt Brian, Joe Ashurst twice, and Leon Aikman also spurning chances.
Cayne Maxwell twice pulled the ball back across the goal but Hucknall failed to get on the end, much to the frustration of the Yellows’ bench and supporters.
After the break Matlock had a very bright opening 10-minute spell.
From the kick-off Mike Randall made his one and only save, but in a case of déjà vu and a repeat of the game at home Matlock were awarded a contentious penalty.
Joel Goodacre appeared to win the ball cleanly before the Matlock player went down over the prone Goodacre.
The penalty was despatched to give Matlock a lead in a game the Yellows should have killed in the first half.
The game then opened up with Matlock’s talented left wing substitute stretching Hucknall until the action settled down and the Yellows went for the equaliser.
Leon Aikman was flattened in the penalty box right in front of a linesman who, to the anger of the Hucknall players, failed to see it.
A foul on Jamie Crawford on the edge of the Matlock box was then given Matlock’s way with Matt Brian’s anger resulting in a yellow card.
The Yellows blazed several half chances over before a sustained spell of pressure, in which they gained three corners, finally saw them level with Jaylee Hodgson scoring at the back post.
The game again became frantic but neither side could find a winner.
Saturday’s visit of Swanwick was always going to be tough and, although not playing as well as the previous week’s game in defeat against Matlock, the Yellows again dominated large parts of the game creating opportunities.
But those missed chances again left the opposition still in the game until late on before Nelson headed home a flicked-on corner to break a dogged Swanwick defence’s resilience.
Town had the majority of possession in the first half. But when chances presented themselves, the confidence in front of goal was there for all to see.
But unlike previous games in the last month or so, they managed to grind out a result in a match they should have won more comfortably.
HUCKNALL (v Swanwick): Mike Randall, Josh Henry, Dave Leak, Joe Atkinson, Cayne Maxwell, Michael Banister (Montell Gatland), Joel Goodacre, Leon Aikman, Matt Brian, Jaylee Hodgson (Adam Nelson), Joe Ashurst. Sub not used: Ashley Whitt.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Cayne Maxwell.
HUCKNALL (V Matlock): Mike Randall, Josh Henry, Lenny Jenkins, Joe Atkinson, Cayne Maxwell, Michael Banister, Joel Goodacre (Jamie Crawford), Leon Aikman, Matt Brian, Adam Nelson (Jaylee Hodgson), Joe Ashurst. Sub not used: Montell Gatland.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Leon Aikman.