FEARS that Hucknall Town are going backwards, rather than forwards, under their new regime are beginning to grow among restless fans after an abysmal performance in their latest game against Goole.
Town were beaten 1-0 at Watnall Road by Goole, who sit just below them in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South table.
And while the Yorkshire side are on a roll of four successive away wins, there were few excuses for a Yellows display that lacked both cohesion and penetration.
They have now lost half of their 14 games since the triumvirate of Steve Greaves, Michael Johnson and manager Des Lyttle swept into Watnall Road, including the last four on the spin. And they have drifted to seven points behind the promotion play-off places.
Lyttle made one change to the side beaten 3-0 at Loughborough Dynamo the previous Saturday as targetman striker Phil Massingham was sacrificed for the welcome return wide on the left of Aidan Brady after injury.
But from the off, stubborn Goole looked a tough nut to crack and although Brady was busy, Town struggled to find any kind of rhythm or tempo. Subsequently, the number of noteworthy chances was at a premium.
Instead it was the visitors who should have taken the lead when a corner from the left was headed back across goal by Simon Sturdy for Glynn Cotton, who couldn’t quite get enough power on his finish, enabling on-loan ‘keeper Ben White to collect comfortably.
At the end of the first half, Town at last enjoyed a spell of purpose. Grant Ryan cut in from the right for a left-foot shot that was saved and then a terrific move triggered their best opening yet as Corey Gregory’s crossfield ball was taken in his stride by Franny Green, who delivered a cross that was scrambled clear.
With the match crying out for a goal, it soon became obvious that either a piece of magic or a mistake would break the deadlock. Unsurprisingly, it was the latter. Sadly, it was Town playing the role of Santa a few days early, handing Goole a gift winner four minutes into the second period.
When veteran striker Vill Powell made a nuisance of himself, the ball broke across the box where both goalie White and full-back Matt Baxter went to clear. Somehow, both failed and the ball squirmed into the path of Rory Coleman, who had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net, only two minutes after going on as a substitute.
The goal should have given Town the urgency they needed. But instead, they continued to lack creativity in the middle of the park and conviction in the final third.
Ryan was his usual industrious self and set up a chance for Callum Lloyd, whose shot was saved by the legs of ‘keeper Aaron Chapman.
But that was as good as it got for The Yellows, even though Lyttle threw on substitutes Massingham and Anthony Gregory for Green and the tiring Brady to line up with three strikers for the last 20 minutes.
Town were constantly frustrated by a shortage of ideas and bad decision-making. And the only plus point from the match was that, comical goal apart, they appeared comfortable at the back where centre-half Aaron Mitchell, recently recruited from John Ramshaw’s Eastwood Town, looked a quality signing.