We were supposed to be going to Forest Town to get a first look at AFC Mansfield, but this game was a bit nearer to home, and we wanted to get a look at the new AFC team CMFL new boys, Mickleover Royals.
Derby Royals used to play in the MRA, but this season changed their name and made the step up into the non-league pyramid.
Not many at Watnall Road for this game, but the 35-40 who bothered saw an entertaining affair with plenty of endeavour shown by both sets of players.
Linby's Jonathan Dakers and David Marlow came and sat with us for the first half, then midway through the second period we went and grabbed a word with Town boss Brett Marshall. Brett had just been gifted his first grand-child -- a bouncing boy weighing in at eleven and a half pounds!! Congrats to all the Marshall family.
Mickleover looked a big team and their left back must have been 6ft 6ins - if not more. They were quick to close down any threat from the home team, they were organised and really worked well for each other. The Linby lads were quite impressed - they are due to play the Royals on Saturday, so have some idea now of what to expect.....
As usual with CML games, it is difficult to get hold of the line-ups, but with a little digging, I did manage to get the names of the scorers!
The Royals had the best of the early play, and after 10 minutes their no. 10 was unlucky to see his header tipped over the bar by Town keeper James Beddingham after the ball was swung in from the right. The resultant corner was also headed at goal, but the ball crashed against the bar before going safe.
Beddingham tips over
Mickleovers' no. 11 Kirk Francis netted twice at Clifton on Saturday, but his first chance of this game saw him blaze the ball into the side netting after he was played through on goal. The visitors had an effort cleared off the line on 23, then 5 minutes Francis hit the ball way, way over the bar from just six yards out.
Francis hammers the ball into the side netting
The pressure did eventually pay dividends three minutes before the break - a corner from the left met with a downward header from BIRCH. The ball bounced up and over Beddingham before nestling in the back of the net. H-T 0-1
Kyle Pemberton had a great chance to bring Town level within two minutes of the re-start, but he completely missed his kick when a superb ball in from the right found him just 8-10 yards from goal.
Mickleover increased their lead on the hour mark, the goal coming after a Hucknall attack broke down.
Gifted the ball, Birch quickly played it on to the Reds no. 8, and his perfectly weighted downfield pass dropped straight to FRANCIS who opened his body before firing neatly past Beddingham from 15 yards out.
Hucknall began to put some moves together as the half wore on, but the Royals' defence was up to anything thrown at it -- until the 87th minute that is. That's when Town opened their account for the season. A free kick 20 yards from goal flew across the goal and waiting on the far post for a simple little tap in was Town sub JAKE THOMAS. F-T 1-2.
Pleasant evening in pleasant company - got a bit chilly after 9 o'clock though - a sign of things to come????
Admission - HTFC season ticket
Attendance - head count 35