ANGRY manager Des Lyttle admitted he lost his temper with Hucknall Town for the first time since he was appointed nearly six months ago after they lost heavily against Belper Town.
Two tonic away wins, plus the failings of others, had handed Town an outside chance of snatching the last promotion play-off berth in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
And a home victory over Belper Town, whom they had hammered 5-1 in their best win of the season at Christchurch Meadow last October, looked a formality.
But instead a shocking first-half performance sent Hucknall spinning towards a 3-0 defeat — and left Lyttle foaming at the mouth.
“The players got a full rollocking,” said the former Nottingham Forest full-back.
“I’ve not been so angry since I joined the club — not even when we lost five games on the trot.
“Belper were quicker and better than us. We never turned up. We lacked desire and failed to compete.”
Lyttle hauled off ineffective new striker Tony Edwards and sent on Austin Wallace, one of five young reserve-team players occupying the substitutes’ bench.
And with Wallace “looking superb up front”, according to the boss, he was pleased with the response from his players in the second half.
However Hucknall still slid to their eighth defeat at Watnall Road this term — a record which means they have now taken more points away from home (29 to 24).
And Lyttle refused to blame the absence of key players, who included suspended strikers Grant Ryan and Phil Massingham and injured midfielder Anthony Gregory.
“It could have been a factor but I I don’t like making excuses,” he said. “Belper were much better, much bigger than when we played them last time. But even though our squad wasn’t the strongest for the game, I expect more from players when they are given an opportunity.”
The Yellows were behind from the second minute when a free-kick found unmarked striker Jon Froggatt, whose superbly-placed header found the bottom corner.
Froggatt struck again on 18 when he was inexplicably allowed to bring the ball down, turn and strike a beautiful 20-yarder past James Lindley.
And with Hucknall desperately lacklustre, it was almost three as Andy Rushbury’s looping header bounced off the bar.
Belper, whose squad included four ex-Yellows in giant defender Karl Colley, midfielders Steve Warne and Deon Meikle and striker Mark Ward, continued to impress after the break.
Froggatt even had a handful of chances to complete his hat-trick — most notably when lobbing Lindley with a header that was cleared off the line by covering defender Kieran Walker.
To be fair to Hucknall, they hit back to create several openings of their own. Walker, Theo Smith, new signing Lavell White and skipper Callum Lloyd all went close.
But The Yellows found Nailers ‘keeper Aaron Chapman in inspired form. And their miserable night was completed in the dying minutes when Belper snatched a third goal on a break down the left — Rushbury’s cross being glanced home with a deft touch by Ward.