A TERRIBLE defensive howler by Grant Brindley condemned plummeting Hucknall Town to a crushing defeat in their relegation ‘six-pointer’ with Whitby Town on Wednesday night.
In the 88th minute at Watnall Road, and with the scores tied at 1-1, the big centre-half failed to listen to a straight-forward shout from his ‘keeper, Ross Whalin in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division clash.
The ball was rolling towards Whalin, who had advanced to the edge of his area, with no Whitby players nearby, when Brindley decided to intervene.
But his tame attempted clearance fell to Whitby midfielder Jimmy Beadle 25 yards out and he calmly lobbed Whalin for a 2-1 win. Brindley, who has been one of Hucknall’s better players this season, was left to hold his head in his hands.
The blunder leaves The Yellows firmly entrenched in the bottom four of the table.
Boss Tommy Brookbanks has previously declared that five wins will see his side safe. One of them should have come against fellow strugglers Whitby.
They should have won it by three or four. Three points would have propelled them to 16th in the table. Instead, defeat leaves them 20th, two points and a considerable goal-difference deficit from safety.
Brookbanks fielded a 4-4-2 formation with speedy wingers and Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale and David Graham up front. But The Yellows looked nervous in the first half. Their passing and control was wayward.
It was easy to see why Whitby are near the bottom. But, after a first-half devoid of any good chances for either side, it was the visitors who took the lead on 44.
A scuffed cross by right-winger Samuel Hodgson fell kindly to right-back Andrew Leeson who controlled the ball and slotted under the advancing Whalin from six yards.
Brookbanks made two changes at the break as Dean Gent and Callum Lloyd came on for Wayne Diuk and the woeful Anthony Griffith Junior, who had looked disinterested during the first half.
The changes improved The Yellows and, on 48, Brindley just failed to force the ball past the diving Whitby ‘keeper, Thomas Courtney.
On 55 minutes, Graham played in Gent, but Courtney raced off his line to block the midfielder’s shot.
Just past the hour, Gent was forced off with a knee injury and was replaced by Jared Holmes. With all three substitutes now on, it meant new signing, striker Grant Ryan, would not get his debut.
Hucknall got a deserved equaliser on 65. Josh Burge’s cross was swallowed up by a cluster of bodies before popping out kindly to Graham, who slammed home from near the penalty spot. He couldn’t miss.
Eight minutes later Burge burst into the box on the left and got to the byline. His cross found the unmarked Tris Whitman, who hit a first-time volley. Courtney got a touch on it but it was heading in, until it was hacked off the line at the last milli-second.
On 83, after his initial shot was saved, Burge looked set to score with virtually an open goal. But his left-foot shot from 14 yards hit the crossbar. Lloyd put the rebound just past a post.
On 85, Graham should have done better but volleyed straight into Courtney’s arms when well placed. Then, heartbreak, as Brindley fluffed his lines and Beadle profited.