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Leigh RMI 2 Hucknall Town 1
By Matt Lawton
December 30 2005




RMI survived a nervewracking late onslaught to grab their second victory in succession, largely thanks to two goals in the first half from midfielder Scott Willis.
Although Hucknall visited Hilton Park riding high in fourth place in the Conference North table, RMI went in to the game full of confidence after accounting for sixth-placed Harrogate Town with a terrific 3-1 victory on Boxing Day. Andy Nelson's young side was clearly boosted that day by a fair contingent of more experienced new signings to guide those already at the club, and their influence is there for all to see after a commanding first half performance put RMI in to a comfortable position.

There was already some surprise that the game went ahead in the first place, with yesterday's snow and ice subsiding on a fairly mild December day, though heavy rainfall left certain areas of the pitch submerged under a sea of mud and water, meaning the scene was never likely to a terrific footballing encounter.

Because of the conditions, it didn't come as a shock to witness little aesthetic brilliance in a scrappy game, though that was counter-balanced by a thrilling second half which saw RMI grimly cling on to their lead as the visitors chased an unlikely comeback.

At half-time, any sort of a comeback looked an unlikely prospect as RMI again belied their lowly status and played their opponents off the park after getting to grips with the conditions early on.

Following on from Chris Simm's wonder goal that clinched the victory over Harrogate on Monday, the goal that gave RMI the lead was again one that would be fit to grace any fixture, with the finally reaching midfielder Scott Willis on the edge of the box, who smashed the ball in to the net to put the Leythers in front just after the half hour mark.

That lead was doubled shortly before half time, when again a shot was struck from the edge of the box although it may not have tested the goalkeeper until Willis connected with it in the area to change it's direction and flick it past the goalkeeper to confirm RMI's domination.

As the second half began, it was RMI who looked the more likely to add to their lead rather than the visitors to pull one back. Chris Williams had some success running down RMI's right flank before he was replaced by Steve Settle who also caused some problems for the Hucknall defence, whilst Andy Roscoe thought he'd won a penalty down the left wing, only for a scything challenge to bring him down happening just outside the penalty area.

It was somewhat against the run of play that Hucknall halved the deficit, with a hopeful long ball completely deceiving Steve Brockley who swiped his leg at thin air, with Robert Gill happy to race on to the ball and put it past John Lamb in the RMI goal with half an hour remaining.

This was followed by half an hour of almost constant pressure on the RMI goal, and it times it seemed as though they were conspiring to be their own worst enemies, giving away several free kicks around the penalty area because of poor marking or anticipation, with Roscoe going in to the referee's notebook for a particularly blatant offence that halted a Hucknall counter attack.

RMI put the nerves of their supporters through the grinder as they desperately tried to keep the ball out of the goal using whatever part of the anatomy that they could legally do so, surviving countless penalty shouts and shots on goal.

Ian Taylor had a chance to wrap up the victory on the counter attack in stoppage time but his shot was blocked and Chris Simm failed to latch on to the rebound, but after many attempts to try and run the clock down, the referee finally bowed to the pressure and blew the full-time whistle, much to the relief of the home supporters who showed their appreciation for their side at the end of the game.

For the first time in a long while RMI now go in to a game with two successive wins behind them before they travel for the return game with Harrogate on Monday afternoon.