ANGRY Des Lyttle has been forced to tear a strip off his Hucknall Town players for the first time since he became manager.
Lyttle blew his top after an awful performance at Sutton Coldfield Town resulted in a shock 5-1 pasting.
The result bemused all at the club and was wholly unexpected after a sound run of form since The Yellows were taken over ten weeks ago.
For the first time, it cast serious doubts on their ability to mount a challenge for immediate promotion back to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s Premier Division.
“I don’t know where the result came from,” confessed ex-Nottingham Forest defender Lyttle. “It was a real surprise.
“For the first time in the two months I have been at the club, the lads just didn’t turn up.
“The previous Wednesday, I thought we were unlucky not to get something from the game against Grantham. There were loads of positives and I drove home thinking we were not far away from the best in the league.
“I picked the same side and the same formation against Sutton Coldfield but the performance was the total reverse.
“We never got started and we were 3-0 down in the blink of an eye.
“It was really, really poor and I let the lads know at the end. It was constructive but there were a few choice words.
“Sometimes you can accept defeats — but not in that manner.”
Lyttle refused to blame the result on Sutton Coldfield’s artificial pitch, which has triggered controversy in the Evo-Stik League.
“It had nothing to do with it,” he said. “It was a good surface and probably better than some of the grass pitches in the league. In fact, it should have suited us because I encourage the boys to pass the ball.
“We just never defended right, never passed the ball and never worked hard enough.
“We failed to do the horrible, ugly things. We never ran, never put a foot in.”
Lyttle fears that a more likely reason for the performance was the fact that they didn’t train on the Thursday before the game — because they’d played Grantham 24 hours earlier.
And he hinted that he would like the club to revert to playing midweek home games on Tuesdays. The day was changed under Tommy Brookbanks, who wanted to avoid a clash with Nottingham Forest or Notts County matches.
“I trusted the lads to look after themselves after the Grantham game,” said Lyttle. “But maybe one or two of them did what they shouldn’t have done.
“Having said that, I don’t want to make excuses for the players. Regardless of the day we play or the amount of rest we get, I expect them to be ready.
“Hopefully, it was a one-off. We are having two good training sessions this week when I want to get back to basics. By the end of the week, the boys will know where I’m coming from.”
Town get the chance to put things right on Saturday December 10 when they travel to play mid-table Loughborough Dynamo, who knocked them out of the league cup in September.
Lyttle has suggested that there might be changes, which could mean a recall for young on-loan central defender Liam Wakefield.
Wakefield missed the games against Grantham and Sutton Coldfield because of illness. But this week, he was expected to be playing for Doncaster Rovers in the FA Youth Cup and Lyttle was planning to talk to their manager, Dean Saunders, before bringing him back to Watnall Road.
Another defender, Romaine Graham, is also in contention again after a loan spell at Dunkirk. And winger Aidan Brady should be fit after an absence with a thigh strain.
“Aidy has also just started a new job and was working in Scotland last weekend,” said Lyttle. “But we have missed him because he is an out-and-out wide player.”
Other players in the squad will also be hoping to figure, including youngsters Reiss Neill and Lewis Williamson, the two youngsters snapped up from Notts County last month.