A BAFFLING penalty-decision condemned Hucknall Town to a costly defeat at Evo-Stik League, Premier Division relegation rivals Whitby Town on Wednesday night.
Furious Hucknall boss Tommy Brookbanks slammed the awarding of the tenth-minute spot-kick as “terrible”.
He added ruefully that it was a “massive decision in the context of the league”.
The reverse took the gloss of Hucknall’s recent upturn in form that had seen them win two games on the bounce and climb, temporarily, out of the relegation zone.
As it is, the Whitby penalty, converted by former Notts County and Leeds United man Tony Hackworth, was enough to send The Yellows back into the dreaded bottom four.
Brookbanks said: “We put in a battling performance. Whitby were in our faces. They are a big, strong, physical side. They did their homework and stopped us playing.
“But I think a draw would have been a fair result.
“It was a terrible decision for the penalty. The linesman, 25 yards away, gave it. The referee, who was five yards away, didn’t.
“No-one in the ground and none of their players appealed for it.
“They miscued a shot. Fabian Smith was on the floor. The ball hit him somewhere on the body and trickled to Ross Whalin.
“Everyone carried on but next thing you know, the linesman has called the ref over and it’s a penalty.
“We thought they were giving offside.
“It was a game of very few chances. They were trying to cancel us out. We were trying to play.
“It is a big blow but nothing was decided on Wednesday night.
“We have just got to go and beat Ashton United, Ossett Town and Burscough in our next three games.”
Brookbanks made two changes from the 11 that beat Nantwich Town and Retford United. Wayne Diuk was ill and David Boafo is feared to have fractured his foot, so Joe Pheasant and Tris Whitman were brought in.
The penalty came after a Leon Scott effort was adjudged to have glanced off Smith’s hand. Hackworth made no mistake from the spot.
Whitby bossed the remainder of the first half but failed to force ‘keeper Whalin into any serious saves.
The second half saw Hucknall on top, with their best chance falling to in-form striker Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale. But the frontman, who had scored five in the previous two games, fired just wide when one-on-one with ‘keeper David Campbell.
The Yellows remained camped in Whitby’s half until the final whistle. But for all their pushing and probing, a goal would not come.