DESPERATE Hucknall Town are staring into the relegation abyss after a former Football League striker put them to the sword on Tuesday night (February 15).
The Yellows succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against local rivals Worksop Town in front of a miserly crowd of 135 at Watnall Road.
It was their sixth defeat in seven games in 2011 and, thanks in part to the freezing weather, Hucknall’s winless run in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division now stretches back to a 4-3 triumph over Kendal Town at Watnall Road on Saturday November 13.
The Yellows were only just second best against big-spending, former groundshare buddies Worksop and had their chances.
Indeed, for the first 20 minutes of the second half Hucknall had the visitors on the ropes and Tigers’’keeper Jon Worsnop pulled off a series of outstanding saves.
But, in the end, Worksop’s superior ability shone through.
Hucknall’s tormentor-in-chief was speedy former Chesterfield frontman Jamie Jackson, who scored both Worksop goals.
The centre-half pairing of Martin Ball and Wayne Diuk — and latterly Ball and Grant Brindley — toiled against Jackson’s pace, and the hitman should have scored more than two.
Jackson was ably supported by 6’5” Spanish striker Mikel Suarez, a recent signing from Boston United, and tricky left-winger Sam Duncan, who is on loan from Eastwood Town.
But that said, Hucknall’s young side could not be faulted for effort and energy on a soaking wet night at Watnall Road.
They also showed flashes of ability, but found Worsnop, and his post, on sparkling form.
If Hucknall can replicate the effort and attacking intent of the second half in particular, they will claw away from the drop-zone.
Boss Tommy Brookbanks made four changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Chasetown and gave a debut to new signing James Jepson.
The 28-year-old left-back, who was on Notts County’s books as a youngster, has joined from Rainworth Miners Welfare and gave an assured, solid display against the strong-running Chris Bettney.
Jepson, Anthony Griffith Junior, Jared Holmes and Dean Gent were preferred to Fabian Smith, Tris Whitman, Callum Lloyd and Brindley.
Ex-Yellows Danny Bacon and Luke Shiels were in Worksop’s 11.
Worksop also included new signing James Cotterill, who achieved infamy in November 2006 while playing for Barrow in the FA Cup First Round against Bristol Rovers.
Cotterill punched Rovers’ Sean Rigg and broke his jaw. He was jailed for four months.
Hucknall started brightly but Worksop slowly cemented themselves in the game.
On 18 minutes, Shiels played in Jackson, whose pace took him clear of Ball, but ‘keeper Ross Whalin blocked his shot.
Two minutes later Duncan found Suarez, but his first-time shot went just wide. Then, on 24, came the first goal.
Jackson latched on to a ball over the top, burned away from Hucknall’s defence, and cleverly clipped the ball past Whalin.
The striker then played a one-two with Suarez and was one-on-one with Whalin again, but the ‘keeper repelled the shot.
Brookbanks boosted his side at the break and they came out on fire for the second half.
Four minutes in Gent’s rasping 22-yarder brought a full-stretch low save from Worsnop. Then, on the hour, Worsnop beat away a Dion Chambers shot.
Up the other end, Jepson pulled off a brilliant last-ditch block after Jackson had got in behind Brindley and Ball.
Bettney missed another one-on-one, before Worsnop somehow tipped away Griffith Junior’s scintillating volley.
Gent should have done better on 70 after a mazy run, but his weak shot from 16 yards trickled into Worsnop’s hands, before Jackson effectively put the game to bed on 75 when he poked home from four yards.
Town almost brought a goal back on 85, but Griffith Junior’s left-foot shot came back off the foot of a post.
They did score on 93 though. Brindley beat Worsnop to Jepson’s long ball and Whitman slotted home.