Thumped Yellows get Cold shoulder at Sutton

Frabcis Green for Lincoln City
Frabcis Green for Lincoln City

IT was a day of curious upsets at the top end of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.

Grantham Town’s extraordinary run of 11 successive league wins was halted by a 3-2 defeat at home to Newcastle Town.

And fellow title-contenders Stamford and Sheffield also suffered home defeats — 4-2 to Ilkeston and 3-2 to Coalville Town.

But no result was more unexpected than this as Hucknall Town produced their worst performance since manager Des Lyttle took the reins in mid-October and duly plunged to their biggest defeat since they were freefall into relegation under Tommy Brookbanks last season.

Having given Grantham such a good run for their money only three days earlier at Watnall Road, Lyttle had no hesitation in naming the same line-up for the trip to Sutton Coldfield Town, which is not far from his own West Midlands home. And he was looking forward to parading his new-look side in front of locals whom know him so well.

But instead The Yellows horrified their boss with a first-half display so inept that they found themselves 4-0 down at the interval.

Sutton, who play on an artificial pitch at their Coles Lane ground, were clearly hellbent on revenge after a 3-1 defeat at Watnall Road in October that knocked them off the top of the table. Since then, they had struggled to find their stride, winning only three of ten league matches.

But few were prepared for the way The Royals dismantled Hucknall in a one-sided first half that had to be seen to be believed. Indeed but for a string of fine saves by James Lindley, they would have scored more.

It all went wrong from the sixth minute when James Quiggin headed home from close range after a fine cross by winger Matt Dodd, who gave player/coach Craig Armstrong a torrid time at left-back all afternoon.

Just before the half-hour mark, a misjudged punch by Lindley allowed Joe Jones to nod home the second. And just after the half-hour mark, Dodd ended a lung-busting run on the break to calmly finish for number three.

The Royals’ first-half display was capped on the stroke of the interval when dangerman Dodd caused more havoc on the right flank and crossed for Ben Marshall to tap home.

The second period was largely academic, with Hucknall merely trying to salvage a sliver of pride and the home team happy to defend their lead — although they went close again when Craig Marshall drove against the base of a post when teed up by Quiggin.

The Yellows did find the net in injury-time when midfielder Anthony Gregory headed home, unchallenged, after a cross from the left.

But not before Sutton had added a fifth goal moments earlier. This time substitute Joel Fuller was given too much time to place his shot in the corner after Jones had knocked back yet another cross from man-of-the-match Dodd.