NEW signing Curtis Shaw made an instant impact as Hucknall Town turned in a five-star show for their first win under manager Des Lyttle.
Hucknall inflicted a 5-1 defeat on mid-table Belper Town, who had won seven of their previous eight matches.
And Shaw scored two superb goals on his debut after being snapped up on the eve of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South match from divisional rivals Carlton Town.
Now Lyttle has challenged the 24-year-old midfielder to finally make the most of his ability, which once won him a place in Mansfield Town’s side.
“Curtis has undoubted talent,” said The Yellows’ new boss. “He has played in the Conference and had trials for Football League clubs.
“But sometimes ability is not enough. You have to live your life right.
“I have said to him this is not necessarily his last chance but he has to decide where his career is going.
“He is still young enough to make a living from the game. If he can perform like he did against Belper and start to love the game again, I don’t expect to keep him for very long. He’s too good for this level.”
Shaw made three starts for Mansfield during the 2008/09 season before being mysteriously released by manager David Holdsworth “for reasons which have to remain private”.
He later had a brief spell at Hucknall, making nine appearances, before drifting on to other non-league outfits. Earlier this term, he had a trial at Lyttle’s former club, Tamworth.
Shaw’s latest debut came in the middle of a new-look five-man midfield that yielded a goal for Hucknall inside the opening seven minutes. Winger Aidan Brady pounced on a weak backpass from Belper’s Aaron Pride to cross for another fresh face, Corey Gregory, to net his first goal for the club.
The home side equalised against the run of play 12 minutes later when dangerman Lee Morris turned well to cross for Jon Froggatt to get in front of his marker and poke home.
And suddenly, The Nailers had a spring in their step, with ex-Yellow Dion Meikle flashing a 25-yard half-volley over the bar and Ryan Hindley looking menacing on the flank.
However, with experienced duo, skipper Wayne Diuk and new player/coach Craig Armstrong, who made his debut at left-back, marshalling the troops well, Hucknall were soon in command again.
Their patient possession-football was rewarded a minute from the break when they restored their lead. Striker Grant Ryan flicked the ball on for Shaw, who showed terrific technique to watch the ball drop over his head and drive a 20-yard shot into the far corrner.
The Yellows opened the second half with claims for a penalty when midfielder Callum Lloyd was tugged in the box. But they soon made it three when striker Ryan won the ball near the corner flag, beat two men on the byline and fired in a cross that Belper defender Alan O’Hare could only steer into his own net.
The goal enabled Hucknall to relax and really turn the screw on the shellshocked Nailers.
Three minutes later, new midfielder Anthony Gregory added a fourth goal, stretching out his left foot to prod past helpless ‘keeper Andy Richmond to make up for a bad first touch as he latched on to a pass from Corey Gregory.
Hucknall were in buoyant mood by now and saved the best goal until last. Brady, who was a big threat all afternoon, lobbed a fine ball for Shaw to chase and although the man-of-the-match had five yards to make up on his defender, he got there to chip the ‘keeper from 25 yards.
With Belper deflated, even more goals could have come the way of Lyttle’s troops.
Anthony Gregory’s 25-yard shot was deflected on to the top of the bar, Lloyd’s curler was turned away for a corner and the impressive Ryan’s right-foot shot was dragged wide.