James nets the winner as Selston edge closer to title

Hucknall midfielder Joe Ashurst (yellow) challenges Damien James, who netted the winner for Selston in the first-half.

Hucknall midfielder Joe Ashurst (yellow) challenges Damien James, who netted the winner for Selston in the first-half.

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Selston went one step closer to the Central Midlands League South title on Saturday with a 1-0 win over fellow hopefuls Hucknall Town.

The result, coupled with the massive win over second-placed Belper United three days before, leaves the Parishioners firm favourites to take the honours as they sit 14 points clear and two wins away from the title.

On a very difficult pitch, which the home side had been working on for days to get remotely playable, both sides went at it hammer and tongs from the outset.

The home side won an early free kick wide left which captain Ben Moore delivered to the back post where Shaun Farnsworth found himself free to head across the box and Damien James was on hand to head home from six yards to open the scoring.

The goal rattled Hucknall for a time and Selston began to gain some advantage. Wayne Cooke won a long ball with a great leap and ran onto his own flick on finding himself free to advance towards the area, however the surface betrayed him and the ball got stuck in between his feet and allowed Town to recover.

Hucknall began to rally and, after a spell of possession, won their own free-kick wide on the right. A great delivery to the far post saw the ball headed into the net, however the referee disallowed the goal for a push on a Selston defender.

The game became a war of attrition, and a physical one at that, with neither side giving any quarter.

The only other moment of quality in the half came when James took a great touch and released Tom Widdowson, on for the injured Rory Davies, who played an excellent ball for Sean Gregory to run onto. Gregory raced past Joe Atkinson and shot at the near post but James Beddingham in the Hucknall goal was equal to the near post effort.

The second-half was as tight as the first, with neither team creating much to begin with. Hucknall did apply some pressure and enjoyed some lengthy spells of possession. This forced a couple of corners but the visitors failed to really trouble the Selston defence.

Selston’s attack gained from Hucknall’s attempts to grab the equaliser as the game wore on. Cooke’s hard work, saw him break free of the back line but he was held back by Atkinson, however Selston couldn’t capitalise on the free-kick, with Moore’s effort from a knock down going wide of the post.

Gregory almost unlocked the stretched Hucknall defence when his ball with the outside of the boot from wide right to wide left found Widdowson in space, however Hucknall filtered back and defended well to snuff out the danger.

The final action of note saw Moore skip away from two in the mud bath centre circle and release James wide right. His delivery into the box saw Montell Gatland shank awkwardly for a corner. The resulting ball in didn’t trouble Hucknall, however, and the score remained 1-0 to the hosts.

Hucknall will rue the lack of chances they created when they had plenty of possession.

Selston stopper Jake Ball didn’t have an effort on goal to save, whilst the league leaders will celebrate battling away to win again and notching their 100th league goal of the season.