Stunning strike earns Huntingdon Town success in basement battle
- Credit: Archant
A bottom-of-the-table clash on a cold, wet and blustery Wednesday night hardly had the makings of a memorable footballing spectacle.
But the hardy souls gathered at Jubilee Park to see Huntingdon Town continue their United Counties League Premier Division revival won’t forget last night in a hurry.
Success over Wellingborough courtesy of a solitary but spectacular Alex Shepherd goal was another big step in the right direction for a Town side battling against the odds as well as relegation. That battle has now been boosted considerably by wins in successive weeks.
One victory could easily be dismissed as a flash in the pan. A quirk. A freak. Even a fluke.
But following up a surprise triumph at Wisbech last Tuesday with a second success eight days later means Huntingdon must be taken seriously again.
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A club condemned to relegation before a ball had even been kicked by many UCL folk, a club who went almost nine months without a victory, and a club who don’t pay their players a penny, is now moving forward again.
Much of the credit for that must go to boss Scott Witherall - a man with a limited managerial track record (by his own admission) but one who’s outlook and zest has breathed new life into a demoralised set of players.
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Witherall had never managed above Cambs League 1B level until getting the nod to replace Ian Edge in the Huntingdon hotseat last month. It was the equivalent of a Conference manager getting a Premier League job.
But it seems to be working as supremo Witherall and number two Paul Wright (who is a considerably better Gregg Wallace lookalike than former boss Seb Hayes by the way) ooze positivity.
They wore smiles pretty much throughout last night’s match and rarely uttered a critical word - even when their team were having to soak up wave after wave of Wellingborough pressure in the second half.
The combination of some exceptional Carl Mackney goalkeeping and some hopelessly errant finishing ensured Town somehow preserved an advantage provided by Shepherd. His long-range blast in the 12th minute was worthy of winning any game, let alone a Step 5 basement battle.
Witherall said: “It was a great goal and getting a win at home - in front of our supporters - is huge.
“This team is full of grit and determination and the lads just do not stop working. We needed a little bit of luck along the way to see the game out, but we managed it.
“Every game is a big one in our situation and all we can do is keeping picking up results. A lot of people will still class us as underdogs to stay up, but that’s fine by me.”
It would be foolish to get carried away as Huntingdon remain bottom of the Premier Division table, but they are now on the coat-tails of the teams immediately above them.
Last night’s success clawed them to within a point of Wellingborough while five other teams are no more than five points above them. That group includes a managerless Eynesbury Rovers side.
Perhaps most encouraging of all for Huntingdon is the fact there is still considerable scope for improvement individually, collectively and tactically.
The next test comes on Saturday with a trip to a Peterborough Northern Star side who have won their last four games.
They’re certainly taking Town seriously as coach Ian Jackson was sent on a Jubilee Park spying mission last night.