The Jekyll and Hyde displays of HUCKNALL TOWN continued with Central Midlands League, South Division defeat against a Micklelover Royals side reduced to ten men.
Town lost 2-1 at home to their mid-table Derbyshire visitors after a performance far below the standards they have set themselves.
They gifted two sloppy goals in the opening half-hour and despite battling back, they failed to take full advantage of a late red card for Mickleover.
Now they have gone five games without a win in a sticky sequence that doesn’t get any easier this coming Saturday when they travel to meet title-chasing Bilborough Pelican.
Mickleover had lost their previous two games 4-0 and 6-0. But they must have thought Christmas had come early in the first phase of last Saturday’s match as they forced nine corners, courtesy of Town’s poor clearances or misdirected headers.
Three times they were foiled by tremendous saves from man-of-the-match goalkeeper James Beddingham. But from the last of those nine flagkicks, Lukasz Rakewski gave the visitors the lead on the half hour.
The goal failed to lift The Yellows from their lethargy. Their passing was careless and six minutes later, they fell two behind when striker Niall Mather was allowed too much freedom to run with the ball and find the top corner of the net with a well-placed shot.
Town did pull a goal back before the break when lone frontman Joe Lomax, who had earlier blazed over when it looked easier to score, pounced on a spill by ‘keeper Andy Bacon.
But it couldn’t spare them from a half-time roasting from manager Andy Graves, who duly reshuffled his pack, pushing Eugene Francis alongside Lomax and switching from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2.
The changes almost worked within 30 seconds of the restart when a quick passing movement found Gatland running on to a ball inside the Mickleover box. But his shot was cleared off the line.
Throughout the half, Town were much more lively and enjoyed more of the game.
However, that cutting edge which has been missing all too often, was absent again. They simply didn’t have the quality in the final third to punish the ten-man visitors and fell to a defeat that leaves them in danger of losing touch with the top half of the table.