Absences take toll as Town endure lacklustre finale to season

IT’S hard to remember a more makeshift Hucknall Town side in recent years than the one manager Des Lyttle was forced to turn out for the final match of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South season.

So we should hardly be surprised that The Yellows sank to their third timid defeat on the bounce.

Already burdened by budget restrictions, Lyttle was without star men Callum Lloyd, who was suspended after collecting ten yellow cards, and goalkeeper James Lindley.

Not to mention key defenders Kieran Walker, who had a broken finger, and Lee McAnulty, who found out after an X-ray that, bizarrely, he has been playing for the previous few weeks with a stress fracture of the shin!

It all meant Lyttle had to throw in five youngsters from the reserves, plus two more on the bench, and play James Price (right-back), Anthony Gregory (centre-half) and Theo Smith (up front) out of position.

The upshot was a lacklustre performance against Loughborough Dynamo, who duly cantered to their third victory over Town this term, having beaten them twice at their own Nanpantan Sports Ground home, both in the league and the league cup.

“It was case of juggling the pack,” said Lyttle. “As much as I wanted to win the game, it was too much to ask. Loughborough were a lot stronger than us.

“We stayed in the game for long periods. But it was always going to struggle.”

Thankfully it was a meaningless struggle too, although Loughborough were delighted to cement eighth place in the table -- their highest-ever placing in non-league football.

They were unlucky not to take the lead when Reece Lester cut inside for a shot that curled away from rookie ‘keeper Hadlee Dunn and crashed back off the bar.

But they finally broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second period when Luke Edwards peeled away from his marker to deliver a fine cross for substitute Dom Brennan to head home from six yards.

Town responded with some neat approach play but too many of their moves fizzled out on the edge of the box.

Loughborough sealed the points with two more goals in the final 12 minutes. First a deep free-kick by Dan Henton was headed across goal and into the far corner by Danny Gibbon. And then man-of-the-match Henton got on the scoresheet himself to complete a hat-trick of headed strikes for the visitors.