THE art of defending was top of the training-pitch agenda again after Hucknall Town were held to an unexpected draw against lowly Market Drayton Town at Watnall Road.
Hucknall had to come from behind twice to salvage a point as they gifted goals to their Shropshire visitors, which angered new manager Des Lyttle.
“I was very disappointed with our defending,” said Lyttle. “Not just from the back four and goalkeeper but from all 11.
“This was my sixth game and I can’t remember one goal we have conceded that the opposition deserved or earned.
“Although we didn’t play fluently all afternoon, we must stop making silly errors and start keeping clean sheets.
“I know we have goals in the side but I don’t want us to be known as a team that needs to score three or four to win a game.
“We have to be better at the back and as a side out of possession, so we will be working a lot on that.”
Ironically, Lyttle’s troops were taking on a Drayton side who had leaked seven goals the previous Saturday but who had clearly been tightened up considerably since the appointment of a new manager in former Burnley, Blackpool and Walsall boss Jimmy Mullen (59).
Bolstered by the return of player/coach Craig Armstrong at left-back, Hucknall dominated possession but struggled to penetrate a resolute backline.
Anthony Gregory and Grant Ryan carved out early chances but as The Yellows’ frustration mounted, Drayton grew in confidence and they pinched a shock lead in the 34th minute. Nicky Porter picked up the ball on the halfway-line and after playing a one-two with Luke Reynolds, he released a shot from 25 yards that flew past ‘keeper James Lindley.
Armstrong went close to an equaliser when his 15-yard shot was punched away by alert goalie Andrew Pryce.
But Hucknall did draw level a minute into the second half when Ryan was upended on the edge of the box and Anthony Gregory, who is proving quite a shrewd signing, curled a delightful left-foot free-kick into the top corner.
The goal was the perfect response to a flat first-half performance. But instead of building on it, they handed Drayton the lead back in the 66th minute. This time, the defence failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Stuart Ellison, who shot, left-footed, across Lindley and into the bottom corner.
It took a penalty ten minutes from the end to rescue Hucknall from a surprise defeat. A terrific through-ball by Callum Lloyd found impressive substitute Phil Massingham, who was bundled over by Bobby Spooner for a spot-kick that top scorer Ryan placed well.
In a stirring finale, both sides could have snatched the winner. For Hucknall, Curtis Shaw fed Aidan Brady, who rounded the ‘keeper, only for his shot, with his weaker right foot, to be blocked on the line by a superb sliding clearance from Spooner.
But then, at the other end, home skipper Wayne Diuk saved the day in similar fashion as a Drayton corner skidded across the turf.
STRIKER Nick Ghislanzoni has become the latest Yellows player to re-join former boss Tommy Brookbanks at Stamford. He follows in the footsteps of Mansfield Town target Nathan Watson and young defender Joe Pheasant.
FORMER Yellows boss Billy Millar has left divisional rivals, Rainworth Miners Welfare, by mutual consent after a terrible run of one win in 17 matches.