WITH supreme irony, Hucknall Town’s next match brings them face to face with the manager whose resignation helped to trigger the advent of the Steve Greaves/Michael Johnson/Des Lyttle regime.
For Town travel tomorrow (Saturday) to meet Stamford, who are bossed by Tommy Brookbanks, the man in charge of The Yellows last season and up to October this term.
The 45-year-old milkman left Watnall Road in acrimonious circumstances — after a torturous 18 months at the helm that was racked by financial problems.
But his replacement, ex-Nottingham Forest defender Lyttle, is refusing to allow tomorrow’s match to become a sideshow revolving around personalities.
“I will be telling my players to focus on the game and, hopefully, we will get the right result,” said Lyttle.
“I don’t want it to be a case of us against them and current players against former players. It is just a game of football. I want us to keep our winning run going and our level of performance up.”
The match has taken on crucial importance in the chase for the promotion play-off places in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
For a fine 2-1 victory at Brigg Town last Saturday lifted The Yellows into sixth place in the table, just one place and four points behind Stamford, who occupy the last of the four play-off spots.
As well as Brookbanks and his assistant Gary Stones, the Lincolnshire side boast several ex-Yellows in their squad, including Wayne Diuk, Nathan Watson, Nick Ghislanzoni, Ross Whalin, Joe Pheasant and Kieran Watson.
But after looking like title challengers earlier in the season, recent results have been mixed. Since Brookbanks took over, they have gained 24 points from 16 league games, winning seven and losing six.
Meanwhile Lyttle was delighted by his side’s efforts at Brigg. “It was a very good win and a very good performance,” he said.
“It was an extension of our display against Romulus the previous week. The way we played, the chances we created and the way we defended.
“The only disappointing thing was that we didn’t score more goals in the first half, which we dominated. We should have made the second half a lot more comfortable.”
Hucknall were without injured new signings Seb Lake-Gaskin and Aaron Mitchell, plus suspended winger Aidan Brady. But they eased into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 11 minutes, thanks to a couple of strikes within 60 seconds by leading scorer Grant Ryan.
First Ryan blasted a spot-kick into the roof of the net after Brigg defender Matthew Plant had been penalised for a trip. And then he got up well to meet a right-wing cross from Corey Gregory and head into the corner.
More chances went begging, with home ‘keeper Tom Woodhead in sparkling form, before Brigg, who are managed by ex-Wolves, Sunderland and Hull City defender Peter Daniel, grabbed a lifeline in the 48th minute.
Midfielder Liam Davis embarked on a run from the halfway-line and fired home a cracking drive from 20 yards.
But despite more pressure from The Zebras, which included two efforts cleared off the line, Hucknall defended resolutely to hang on to three precious points.