A measure of the improvement Hucknall Town must find became all too obvious on their latest Saturday to forget in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
Opponents Mickleover Sports were the team sitting directly above Town at the foot of the table. And until beating Lincoln United the previous week, they had not won since December 15, getting through three different managers in the process.
However, the fact that they were able to coast to a 4-0 victory spoke volumes about the task ahead facing The Yellows, particularly as they look set to dodge relegation but remain a strictly amateur team.
The reverse will also go down in the record books as the one that officially, and mathematically, confirmed that Town will finish bottom.
It was their 30th defeat of a torrid campaign, while Rob Ritchie-Smith’s third goal for Mickleover was the 150th The Yellows have conceded in the league.
Perversely, Darren Kelk’s young troops dominated the opening stages of the game, despite a strong wind and hard, bobbly pitch.
But Mickleover were transformed by a switch from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 and didn’t look back after taking a 34th minute lead with a wonder goal from Martin Smythe, who lobbed ’keeper Michael Yates from fully 40 yards.
Three more goals in the second half sealed Town’s fate.
Striker Nathan Benger and midfielder Ritchie-Smith lashed home similar strikes after defenders had failed to clear set-pieces delivered by Rhys Sharpe. And then Benger combined with substitute Gary Webster to provide a chance for David Hind, who blasted home.
The Derbyshire side could have added to their tally, while Town had to wait until the 81st minute for their best chance when a chip from Danny O’Donnell was expertly tipped over the bar by home goalie Joe McCormack.