Ex-Blue Nicholls joins Hayes’ league quest
Former Chelsea man to help club bounce back again
FORMER Chelsea striker Mark Nicholls has joined AFC Hayes’ quest to win back their place in the Southern League.
Nicholls played more than 50 first team games for the Blues in the 1990s, but like former Brook House man Neil Shipperley, had to move away from Stamford Bridge to further his career.
But whereas Shipperley went on to carve out a successful career in the Premier League and Football League, Hllingdon-born Nicholls drifted into non-league football.
The 38-year-old has played locally for Hayes, Northwood and Uxbridge, and also linked up with Shipperley when he managed at both Walton Casuals and North Greenford United.
Nicholls has now added AFC Hayes, relegated to the Combined Counties League following a bottom-place finish in Southern One Central, to his roster of clubs.
Hayes have had a difficult start to life in the Combined Counties, losing 1-0 to both Ashford Town (Middx) and Hanworth Villa in the opening week, but got back on track with a 3-2 FA Cup win over Flackwell Heath on Saturday.
Despite being reduced to 10 men following Jerome Eccleston’s red card, goals from Callum McCarroll, Cyrus Vanterpool and Jordan Berry saw Hayes through the extra preliminary round tie.
Manager Paul Palmer said: “When you go down to 10 men you either sit back or go for it, and we went for it. The lads worked very hard, and it was like we had the full 11, or even 12, on the pitch.
“It was a good win, we just need to do it in the league now. But it’s early days yet, and we have played some very good teams.
“We’ve had a lot of changes, but the best response we have had is from players coming through the door. Mark is the latest to join us, and with his experience he can help the young boys through.”
Meanwhile, Harefield United and Hillingdon Borough were due to play in FA Cup replays last night (Tuesday) after drawing 2-2 with Long Buckby and 1-1 with Wembley respectively on Saturday. OLD Merchant Taylors’ won a crucial relegation encounter at drop zone rivals British Airways in style on Saturday, in a match that could go a long way to deciding the fate of the two teams.
Fielding first, OMT made early inroads into the BA top order, as the new-ball pace of Russell Henley (3-33) in particular was too much for the batsmen and the hosts soon found themselves struggling at 62-5.
A fightback led by Matt Sawant (102) pushed BA to 215 all out, a total that had seemed relatively straightforward until the early dismissal of Nikhil Rawal made it seem a lot more daunting target.
Another couple of wickets fell to leave OMT struggling at 46-3, but Kavir Vedd (58) played a vital role in stabilising the innings before skipper Paul Marshall (51no) and Ed Jones (71no) saw OMT home with a full seven overs left.
Elsewhere, Hayes are bottom of Division 2b after losing by 58 runs to Hurst, but Ruislip went top of 4a with a six-wicket win over Chalfont St Peter, and Hillingdon Manor beat Beaconsfield seconds by four wickets. FASSNIDGE Bowls Club have reached the quarter-finals of the Chiltern & Thames Mixed Triples League after winning their division by 14 points.
After a slow start, during which they earned only 14 points out of 30 from three away games, Fassnidge then won all three of their home games to earn maximum.
This put them on 44 points, way ahead of Cowley on 30, Court Park on 26 and Harlington on 20, and they now look forward to the next stage on August 30.
Meanwhile, despite tying 3-3 on rinks, Harlington went down 121-106 to Hove & Kingsway in their friendly on Saturday.
Harlington’s best rinks came from N Klimentjeva, B Reed and P Rance (21-10), and J Fulbrook, B Lamming and D Cutmore (25-7). BATH Road Cycling Club’s Graham Griggs took first place at the midweek 9.2 mile time trial on the roads of Black Park and Pinewood in 22.43 mins.
He was followed in by Bath Road team-mates Richard Willcox (24.11), Ken Pritchard (26.43), Nick Mann (28.32), Colin Mann (28.42) and Dave Giggs (28.51).
Willcox also took part once more in the Hillingdon Triathletes ‘10’ at Great Missenden, knocking 14 seconds off his previous time to clock 24.35. HILLINGDON Leisure Centre will host the south-east regional final of the National Walking Football Cup at 2pm on Sunday.
The over-50s six-a-side competition of 15minute matches will be played in a round robin league format to decides who represents the region in the southern final in October.
Middlesex representatives Uxbridge Amblers FC will be up against Chelmsford City, Aylesbury United, Lambourne and Stevenage.
n REINFORCEMENT: Flackwell Heath’s Joe Gritt surrounded nded by AFC Hayes players; (right) new face Mark Nicholls