Ruthless Hucknall Town gatecrashed the first match of Bulwell’s new boss to put the cat among the local-derby pigeons in the Central Midlands League.
Wily Scot Hulley was hoping to rekindle the title aspirations of The Bulls after being appointed to work alongside Ian Lowe in a management shake-up.
But instead Town inflicted a sensational 4-0 defeat that suggested the status of top team in the Dispatch district is very much up for grabs again.
The Yellows were solid defensively and clinical on the counter-attack in a display that confirmed manager Andy Graves is bang on course with his strategy of steady improvement at Watnall Road.
“I was pleased with the performance,” said Graves. “On balance, we were good value for the win.
“Bulwell are in transition at the moment. But they certainly play the right way and made for an entertaining game.
“We just need to be consistent and take our chances when we have good spells of possession, as we did in this match.
“We will enjoy this win, but we won’t get carried away.”
Hulley, whose team included a sprinkling of youngsters tasting derby action for the first time, was without top scorer Conor Carter, who was beginning a three-match suspension for getting sent off against Pinxton.
Town were also missing their leading marksman, Adam Nelson. But after an early scare in which defender Dave Leak’s headed backpass fell short and goalkeeper James Beddingham had to come to the rescue, they took a deserved 18th minute lead.
A neat move down the left led to Evans helping a Cameron Davidson cross on to Ben Waplington, who rounded ‘keeper Scott Miles and slotted into an empty net.
The Bulls responded with chances for young midfielder Liam Towle and seasoned striker Jake Fisher (playing against his former club), which brought smart saves from Beddingham. And in the first 15 minutes of the second half, they enjoyed their best spell of pressure, with Fisher cutting in from the left for a chip that was kept out by the goalie’s fingertips.
However, Town always looked the slightly more accomplished side, possessing that extra know-how. Captain Joe Atkinson marshalled their defence superbly, while Leon Aikman was outstanding in midfield.
A shot on the turn by Evans brought Miles to his knees before a drive from distance by Elliott Pitt flashed just wide.
Aikman himself then burst forward for a shot that Miles parried, so it was no surprise when the killer second goal arrived midway through the half. It was soft as Evans tapped home after a long ball down the middle had been allowed to bounce between Miles and centre-back Dwayne Soa. But it was crucial in confirming The Yellows’ supremacy.
Yes, Bulwell kept battling, and Jay Knight forced another fine save from Beddingham with a header from a corner.
However, Town wrapped up the points with two more goals in the last nine minutes -- both scored by substitutes.
First a Waplington corner was met by a fabulous, powerful header from new signing Jeremiah Anson. And then when ‘keeper Miles failed to deal with another flagkick, James Rigg swivelled in the box to crack home a half-volley with his first touch of the game.