Wednesday 29th December 2010

AFC Hucknall 4 Harworth CI 2
Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup First Round
At: Watnall Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Mileage: 111.0
Weather: cold, foggy
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:08; second-half: 47:57

This game wouldn’t normally be on my radar as I don’t tend to watch league cup games and I don’t tend to head out so far anymore on dark evenings when the clocks are on GMT. However, the ‘need’ to watch a fourth game this month, to avoid watching less than four games in December for the first time since 1982, and an opportunity to meet up with some of my East Midlands football friends proved too hard to resist. Fog was a menace both on the way and during the game but didn’t really spoil what was an enjoyable way to see out football in 2010.

The Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup is the league cup competition of the Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League and this first round tie pitted Premier Division newboys AFC Hucknall against higher-ranked Supreme Division Harworth CI. Rob Hornby reckoned the game may have been postponed four or five times already.

When I left home, fog was closing in and with some trepidation I decided to head for Hucknall trying to ignore the 5Live travel bulletin which mentioned that ‘fog was a problem on the M1 between junction 29 and junction 15’.

I knew my way to Hucknall’s Watnall Road ground, being close to A611 Hucknall bypass and next to the roundabout with the B6009. I’d previously been to the ground on three occasions, all to see Hucknall Town – against Eccleshill United in 1993 and twice against Stafford in both 2004 and 2006.

True to their word, Rob, and Malc and Kev (of ‘On The Road’blog fame) were there as were ‘Bob L. Hatt’, ‘osborne’, and Margarete Henke and Jens from Germany, amongst other travellers – a nice post-Christmas gathering.

Prior to kick-off a one-minute silence was held in memory of Tom Brogan, a man who was ‘secretary at Harworth Colliery for over 30 years and involved with the club for over 40 years - a giant of a man who gave his life to the club’. With fog making it difficult to identify players in the distance, AFC Hucknall (wearing yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks) got the tie underway attacking the Watnall Road end of the ground during the first half.

This was the first Central Midlands League game of any description to be played since Wednesday 15th December. Hucknall were the better side during the opening quarter and forced a save out of Harworth keeper Steve Lindsay in the 19th minute who got a boot in the way of Cashel Walters’ shot. Lindsay also used his legs to thwart Jake Fisher as well. Just before the interval Harworth created a couple of decent scoring opportunities. Hadlee Dunn turned over a rising drive from Fisher and from the resulting corner the Hucknall keeper pushed away a fierce shot hit by Simon Ward.

The deadlock was broken at the far end (we were standing under cover behind the Watnall Road goal) four minutes after the restart. An initial shot hit a post and the same or another plyer hammered home the rebound. Was it ‘11’ or ‘9’ who scored. The tannoy announcer said ‘Max Wright’. A mere 115 seconds later, including the time taken to get the action underway again, before AFC Hucknall scored again. Fisher got on the end of a deep left-wing cross and fired home at the far right post. Another goal came, Hucknall’s third, 113 seconds after the second one and this time it was Wright who converted a left-wing cross at the far right post.

In eight second-half minutes, the game had progressed from 0-0 at half-time to 3-0, and the goals kept on coming. Just after the hour mark, Harworth substitute Ryan Paczkowski, from the left side of the area, lifted the ball over Dunn who could only parry it into the far side of the net.

Stood up amongst the covered seats the fog was making it difficult to make out players on the far touchline where the dugouts were situated. Hucknall’s made a change in the 75th minute which for a time remained a mystery before I established it was ‘14’ replacing ‘10’.

AFC Hucknall restored their three-goal lead in the 80th minute through Fisher’s close-range shot. The goals weren’t over. Harworth scored again when unchallenged Kevin Shelley headed home from Paczkowski’s cross. The visitors kept pressing to try and force an unlikely replay. Wayne Duik fouled Lloyd Wilkinson inside the area but Dunn kept out Gareth Sides’ penalty with his boot.

I made good time heading home and the fog didn’t bother too much, apart from the unlit stretch from Alrewas to Armitage.

And as ‘On the Road Malc’ wrote: ‘it was a really good night, and the company was superb’. Rob added: ‘Was good to see some footie and some good faces as well..even the lino asked me in the clubhouse after, was there anyone in the crowd that didn’t know me lol’ Can’t disagree with either of them and I picked up two new Facebook friends in Kev and Margarete.

AFC Hucknall (yellow/black/yellow): 1. Hadlee Dunn, 2. Richie Holmes, 3. Sam Clare, 4. Joel Goodacre (capt), 5. Joe Pheasant, 6. Wayne Duik, 7. Cashel Walters, 8. Sam Sims, 9. Jake Fisher, 10. Danwell Francis, 11. Max Wright. Subs: 12. Josh Henry, 14. Kamran Hussain (for Francis, 75), 15. Ben Waplington (for Fisher, 80).

Harworth CI (red/white/black): 1. Steve Lindsay, 2. Greg Fox, 3. Stuart Needham, 4. Martyn Gee (capt), 5. Luke Edwards, 19. Simon Ward, 7. Chris Belshaw, 8. Lee Edmondson, 9. Gareth Sides, 10. Kevin Shelley, 11. Dean Burrows. Subs: 12. Ryan Paczkowski (ffor Edmondson, ht), 16. Lloyd Wilkinson (for Burrows, ht), 20. Lewis Reid (for Edwards, 51).

Referee: Harry Hawkins.
Assistants: Robin Bourne and Paul Thomas.

1-0 Max Wright (49)
2-0 Jake Fisher (51)
3-0 Max Wright (53)
3-1 Ryan Paczkowski (61)
4-1 Jake Fisher (80)
4-2 Kevin Shelley (86)

Hucknall: none
Harworth: Ryan Paczkowski (YC, 61)

AFC Hucknall report