OPTIMISTIC manager Des Lyttle (pictured) insists the promotion play-offs are still on the radar of Hucknall Town, despite a run of three games without victory.
Draws against Shepshed Dynamo and ex-manager Tommy Brookbanks’s club, Stamford, have left The Yellows in ninth place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
But they are only six points from the final play-off spot and still have ten games to play, beginning with a home game against bottom-of-the-table Quorn on Saturday (March 3).
“Without doubt, the play-offs are still a possibility,” said Lyttle.
“It is not something we talk about as a group of lads. Once you start looking at the league table, you start putting extra pressure on yourselves.
“We just need to focus on winning games of football. But we are still in and around there.”
The fact that Town are in contention at all is a minor miracle, considering the season began with them unable to pay the players a penny in wages and continued with the upheaval surrounding the ousting of new owner Steve Greaves.
But they could easily have been as high as sixth and four points better off without a couple of costly lapses in their latest games.
Against Shepshed, they threw away a 2-0 lead and against Stamford, striker Phil Massingham was sent off only six minutes into the second half.
“I have no complaints about the red card,” said Lyttle. “I was not happy. It was an obvious lack of self-discipline that cost us on the night.
“The usual suspension for violent conduct is three matches. But Phil might get more because he has had a long ban before.
“It’s a pity because he has worked really hard for us up top and has been unlucky not to score more goals.
“Nevertheless, we probably played better with ten men than with 11. We had more steeliness about us and deserved the point.”
The point was salvaged by a late equaliser. But the boot had been on the other foot against Shepshed, who levelled deep into injury-time.
“The referee found an extra eight or nine minutes from somewhere,” moaned Lyttle. “But I was more disappointed with our lads than the ref.
“After going 2-0 up with only eight minutes left, we should have been good enough to see it out.
“I asked the boys for a response after losing to Market Drayton the previous week — and I got it. We were pretty comfortable all afternoon.
“So walking in after the game, it felt as if we had lost.”
Town suffered another blow with midfielder Anthony Gregory sustaining a hamstring strain, while winger Seb Lake-Gaskin also limped off injured at Stamford with a knock on the ankle.
Furthermore they have been hit by the decision of talented midfielder Jared Holmes to rejoin Brookbanks at Stamford.
“It’s left us a bit short, so the feelers are out for a new signing or two,” said Lyttle.