Defending champions hunting another title
Leaders Selston strengthened their hopes of retaining the Central Midlands League South title with a vital 2-1 win at championship rivals Hucknall.
Hucknall, fifth in the table but with six games in hand, had held the Parishioners to a 2-2 draw at the Parish Ground earlier in the season.
But two early goals and a battling second half performance sealed the three points for Selston, who are five points clear of second-placed Eastwood.
The title holders started the brighter with Ben Moore and Kane Hempshall winning the midfield battle.
Hempshall had a hand in the first goal after just five minutes. His excellent ball out wide for Dominic Airey set the Selston winger free to cross to Wayne Cooke, who slotted home from six yards.
The combination of Hempshall and Moore in the centre and Airey and Cooke on the wings created further chances for the visitors.
Cooke couldn’t quite reach another Airey cross before the visitors doubled their lead.
Airey passed to the impressive Carl Moore, in space in the area. Moore’s shot was blocked on the line but the big striker worked the rebound to captain Ben Moore, who side-footed home from ten yards.
Hucknall were restricted to shots from distance, none of which troubled Jake Ball in the Selston goal.
Leon Aikman provided the hosts’ best moment when he set off on a mazy dribble infield, but he was crowded out on the edge of the area by Perry Marriott and Daniel Henshaw.
Selston almost went three ahead on the half-hour. Home keeper Michael Randall’s poor clearance found Cooke on the halfway line and the Selston man’s shot rolled narrowly wide.
Hucknall started the second half with renewed vigour and made the game more difficult for the visitors.
However, Hempshall and Ben Moore combined well to win the ball in midfield for Selston 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, allowing Joshua Henry to clear.
Hucknall made the most of the missed opportunity as Aikman beat Jamie Renshaw and drove into the area before slotting the ball through Jake Ball’s legs to halve the deficit.
The home side’s best opportunity for an equaliser came from a Henry cross to the back post where Jamie Crawford headed over from a few yards out.
The Parishioners got back into their stride as Hucknall pressed for a leveller.
Hempshall drove from midfield to the edge of the box and fired wide, while at the other end the visitors remained solid to claim the crucial victory.
The Parishioners are at home to Swanwick Pentrich Road on December 27.