THE presence of three new signings failed to prevent Hucknall Town slipping to their third defeat on the spin in a promotion challenge fast coming off the rails.
Centre-back Aaron Mitchell and midfielder Kallum Keane made their debuts to cover for the absences of Wayne Diuk and Curtis Shaw for the trip to mid-table Loughborough Dynamo.
And alongside them was 18-year-old goalkeeper Ben White, who has been recruited on loan from York City because James Lindley dislocated his finger in training and could be out until January.
With midfielder Anthony Gregory also out because of a knee injury, Town boss Des Lyttle paraded a fresh and adventurous 4-3-1-2 formation in the hope of bouncing back to form after defeats against Grantham Town and Sutton Coldfield Town.
But despite an improved performance and even though the 3-0 scoreline flattered Loughborough, The Yellows lost further ground in their chase for a place in the promotion play-offs.
Town were very much in the game until the last six minutes when the home side sealed the points with their second and third goals.
First a shot on the turn by Sam McVicar was palmed off the line by right-back Matt Baxter, who was shown an inevitable red card before Jamie Clarke coolly dispatched the resulting penalty. And then, into injury-time, McVicar himself hit the target.
The first half had been even and goalless. On-loan Sheffield United youngster Corey Gregory showed some classy touches in a free role behind the front two and former Peterborough United striker Francis Green enjoyed his best display yet in a Yellows shirt, relishing a new midfield role.
However Loughborough always felt that big centre-backs Mitchell and Nathan Stainfield were vulnerable, while speedy wide men Jacob Blackwell and Reece Lester gave full-backs Baxter and Craig Armstrong a difficult time.
The home side, who have twice beaten high-riding Stamford in recent weeks, duly took the lead seven minutes into the second period when a swift combination of passes released busy striker Clarke, who drove under White.
But Town responded really well and there’s little doubt that had they levelled, they would have got something from the game.
Instead a thunderous left-footed drive from the impressive Gregory smashed against the bar before Loughborough ‘keeper Laurie Pearson pulled off a couple, of fantastic saves to deny centre-forward Grant Ryan.
Ryan’s strike partner, Phil Massingham, also planted a free header narrowly wide to add to The Yellows’ growing frustration.