CONCRETE evidence that manager Tommy Brookbanks is building a new-look Hucknall Town side capable of making a big impact was provided by victory over Sutton Coldfield Town.
West Midlands outfit Sutton arrived at Watnall Road in second place in the table after winning seven of their first nine matches.
But they returned home smarting after struggling to handle an incisive and composed performance by The Yellows, full of flowing football.
Hucknall beat The Royals 3-1 with a display that would have made one of their most loyal supporters, Arthur Bramley, proud.
Sadly, Bramley died earlier in the week and a minute’s applause was tremendously observed in his honour before kick-off.
Considering it was a baking hot day and attractive opposition, the crowd-figure of only 153 was a big disappointment. And those who were there must have feared the worst in the opening 15 minutes, which were controlled by the visitors.
Indeed Sutton were unlucky not to take the lead when an attempted scissor-kick shot by Dean Rathbone came back off a post and the rebound was blazed over from close range by James Quiggin.
However Hucknall recovered well and opened the scoring themselves when Nathan Watson picked the ball up on the halfway-line and embarked on a terrific run before unleashing a curling right-foot shot that flew past ‘keeper Niall Cooper.
The goal was just the tonic they needed and triggered some lovely football. Aidan Brady delivered a telling cross that just evaded the far post. Watson was just too high with an angled shot from a corner. And Grant Ryan shot wide after robbing defender Ben Richards-Everton.
In a rare respite for Sutton, they broke to miss a golden chance of an equaliser just before the break as James Reid fired over from eight yards with the goal at his mercy.
But in the opening six minutes of the restart, the visitors were blitzed by a wonderful spell from Hucknall that ended with them 3-0 to the good.
It started with Ryan, who was a menace all afternoon, sending a snap shot just over and Brady cutting in from the left for a 20-yard effort that was turned round a post.
A deserved second goal had to come — and it was a beauty as man-of-the-match Watson played at least three one-twos with teammates before finishing with a maturity beyond his years.
Shellshocked Sutton had barely recovered when more good work by Brady led to a mistake by ‘keeper Cooper that enabled Ryan to poke home.
Hucknall looked home and hosed. The problem was they probably thought that too and relaxed for a few minutes that threatened to let the visitors right back into the game.
The Royals almost cut the deficit on 54 when Zac Costello was allowed a free header that brought a point-blank save from ‘keeper James Lindley.
But they definitely did three minutes later when centre-back Romaine Graham made his only mistake in a superb performance, getting caught while trying to play the ball out.
It led to full-back Kieran Walker needlessly diving in to bring down Reid for a penalty that Craig Marshall slotted home.
Hucknall survived another scare before finally settling down again, helped no doubt by Sutton’s surprise decision to withdraw dangerman Rathbone.
They nearly added a fourth goal when recalled midfielder Matt Baxter just failed to connect with a Watson cross and good work by Ryan fed Watson, whose effort was blocked.
At the other end, the defence held firm as Sutton rarely threatened Lindley again, despite lots of huffing and puffing.