THE PROMOTION challenge of Hucknall Town stuttered with a couple of disappointing performances on the road against fellow East Midlanders in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
Town threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against High Peak outfit New Mills — after failing to overcome bottom-of-the-table Quorn in their previous match.
As in Leicestershire, manager Des Lyttle was realistic enough to accept that his side did not do enough to win.
Indeed he praised New Mills as ‘the best passing side I have seen so far in this league’. “They played some really good football and made it tough for us,” Lyttle said.
But whereas goalkeeper James Lindley was the hero at Quorn, saving a penalty, he was the villain in Derbyshire because his error gifted New Mills their point-saver eight minutes from the end.
Despite their below-par display, Town looked set to see the game out when home striker Leon Grandison struck a low shot from the edge of the area. It seemed harmless enough but somehow squirmed under the body of Lindley and trickled into the net.
The Yellows still had time to go close to a winner as new striker Francis Green (SEE BACK PAGE) chased down a hopeless cause and found an unmarked Callum Lloyd, whose header swerved just wide.
But they could have few complaints with the outcome to an entertaining clash against a freshly-promoted New Mills side who ran away with the North-West Counties League title last term.
With Lloyd and leading scorer Grant Ryan back after serving one-match suspensions, Town took the lead in the 27th minute when a superb, defence-splitting pass by Curtis Shaw left Lloyd with a one-on-one, which he sidefooted home.
An even better strike doubled the lead 12 minutes later as Anthony Gregory swapped passes with Phil Massingham, who unleashed an unstoppable shot from just inside the area that flew into the corner. And Town might even mave made it three early in the second period when Ryan outmuscled a defender and cut inside for a drive that hit the inside of a post.
However, New Mills, who are managed by the former Stoke City, Burnley and Coventry City defender Ally Pickering, were always in the game and cut the deficit just a minute later when a long punt over the top saw Carlos Meakin outpace his marker and roll a shot into the far corner.
From then on, the home side were on top, leaving Town to rely on breakaways via the tireless Ryan. And the equaliser should have come earlier than it did as substitute Antony Field planted a free header wide from just six yards.