Selston visited Watnall Road knowing that this encounter would be key in deciding this year’s championship, with Hucknall sitting a little way down the table but having 6 games in hand on the defending champions. Following a 2 all draw at the Parish ground earlier in the season, a positive result was crucial for the Parishioners. Two early goals and a battling second half performance sealed the three points for Selston.
The league title holders started the game the brighter of the two teams, Ben Moore and Kane Hempshall winning the early tussles and directing proceedings. Hempshall had a hand in the first goal, his excellent ball out wide for Dominic Airey set the Selston winger away wide right. Airey beat his man and crossed well and Wayne Cooke best his man to the ball to slot home from 6 yards and take the lead, this after just 5 minutes.
The combinations of Hempshall and Moore in the centre and Airey wide right and Cooke wide left brought plenty of positive moments for Selston. Airey was again fed and beat his man to cross but Cooke couldn’t quite reach the ball.
Airey again provided the ammunition for his team when he beat his man and passed into the impressive Carl Moore who had found space in the area. His shot was blocked on the line but the big striker remained alert and picked up the rebound and worked it well to lay it back to captain Ben Moore to side foot home from ten yards to double the lead.
Selston were on top and kept pushing a lovely passing move saw Jamie Renshaw feed Carl Moore wide left, his back heel to Kane Hempshall allowed the midfielder to drive at goal, support arrived from Airey drifting off the wing but the ball from Hempshall just evaded the Selston winger.
Hucknall did have a spell or two of possession but were restricted to shots from distance, none of which troubled Jake Ball in the Selston goal, only one strike being on target. The home side did win a free kick in a threatening position but the strike was well over the bar.
Leon Aikman provided the hosts best moment when he embarked on a mazy dribble infield, making much more ground than he had out wide for the whole of the half previous, however he was ultimately crowded out on the edge of the area by Perry Marriott and Daniel Henshaw.
Selston were almost three in front on the half hour when home keeper, Michael Randall’s poor clearance found Cooke on the halfway line, the Selston man’s shot rolled a few agonising inches wide with neither keeper nor defenders anywhere near to intervene.
The visitors failed to add to their tally before half time and that certainly kept Hucknall in the race. The yellows certainly came out with renewed vigour and made the game much more difficult for the visitors.
Service was quickly resumed from the visitor’s perspective though, Hempshall and Moore combining well to win in midfield and put Airey away inside the full back, the winger’s shot was well saved by Randall and the ball bounced kindly for the home side and Joshua Henry was able to clear.
The Parishioners were stung by that missed opportunity as almost directly after Aikman showed his class – though he showed it far too infrequently across the 90 minutes – by beating Jamie Renshaw to a ball and driving on to the area where he coolly slotted between Jake Ball’s legs to halve the deficit and bring his side right back into the game. The goal lifted the home side and they had a spell of pressure, the best opportunity from this came from a Henry cross to the back stick but Jamie Crawford could only steer his header over the bar from a few yards out.
The parishioners got back into their stride as Hucknall pressed for an equaliser, Kane Hempshall driving from midfield to the edge of the box and firing narrowly wide on the hour. Hucknall had more possession but failed to really create anything clear cut, the Selston rear guard having to block a couple of shots in the area but were never really scrambling and their professional second half performance protected their first half brilliance.
Selston remain top and put pressure back on Hucknall and also Eastwood, who currently lie in second spot.
The Parishioners are at home to Swanwick Pentrich Road on Tuesday the 27th December for a Christmas Cracker!