Easter might as well have been Hallowe’en for horrified Hucknall Town, who suffered seven-goal thrashings in the games they knew they had to win.
Manager Darren Kelk had identified the double-bill against fellow strugglers Romulus last Saturday and Loughborough Dynamo on Easter Monday as Town’s last throw of the dice in their bid to avoid relegation.
But they crashed 7-2 at next-to-bottom Romulus and 7-1 at home to Loughborough to leave them stranded without hope at the foot of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South table.
The Yellows are now 12 points adrift with only six games to play and a goal difference that has escalated to minus 103.
Even if the league relegate just one team this term, which is looking increasingly likely, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be cash-strapped Town.
Monday’s match was the second capitulation at the hands of Loughborough inside three months, following a 13-0 humbling on New Year’s Day when they could field only eight players.
At least they had a full quota this time -- against a Loughborough side who had sacked their managers a week earlier. But despite the presence of a few new faces, including Adam and Jeremy Moran, they were on the back foot from the eighth minute when Reece Lester gave the visitors the lead.
It was 3-0 by the 27th minute, thanks to goals from Matthew Langham and Robert Norris, and although Yellows skipper Warren Hatfield cut the deficit on 57, the rest of the match belonged to Langham.
He added three more goals, on 53, 79 and 87, before ex-Yellow Tristram Whitman completed the rout in the closing seconds.
Against Romulus, a crunch clash turned into a nightmare virtually from the off. For Town were reduced to ten men after only ten minutes.
New centre-half Joe Loscalzo was the player sent off for handball on the line. The resultant penalty, by Dexter Ravenhill, was saved by the legs of goalkeeper Michael Yates -- and The Yellows even went on to snatch the lead themselves when Liam Garner planted a fine shot from outside the area in the 17th minute.
But it was downhill all the way from then on as Romulus built a 3-1 lead by the break before really rubbing it in on their artificial 3G surface.
Luke Keen equalised on 19 with a slick solo goal and nine minutes later, Tyron Amory showed good determination to put Roms in front.
Creating chances at will, the home side struck again in the 39th minute when impressive striker Keen sprang Town’s offside trap for the umpteenth time.
And in the second half, they went on to make a mockery of the fact that they netted only 33 goals in 34 previous league games.
Continuing to exploit the high line that Town’s defence insisted on playing, they made it 4-1 with a right-foot effort from Ashley Jackson on 57.
But the best was yet to come from Romulus because substitute Marcus Brown went on to score a dramatic hat-trick inside only 13 minutes -- and also hit a post!
The Yellows could not cope with Brown’s pace and power as he struck on 73, 76 and 86 minutes, completing his treble with a penalty.
Keen also went close to a hat-trick of his own when denied by a post, so it was something of a surprise when Town grabbed a late consolation, courtesy again of captain Hatfield.