WHEN you’re caught in the middle of dour games, the first priority is to make sure you win them. Take the points and talk about the performance later.
So at least Hucknall Town can be given credit for beating Kidsgrove Athletic at blustery Watnall Road last Saturday.
Even if the performance was far from vintage, the 1-0 victory kept The Yellows on the heels of the promotion pacesetters in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
And it answered the pre-match call of director of football Michael Johnson, who described the game as “a must-win if we are to be serious promotion contenders — after two dodgy away performances” (draws at Quorn and New Mills).
The strong wind made it very difficult for both sides to get the ball down and play. And when they did, they gave it away far too easily.
However, having had time to think about the game this week, Lyttle was in philosophical mood.
“OK, Kidsgrove had a lot of possession but when I replayed the game in my mind, I realised that our ‘keeper didn’t have one serious shot to save, so we must have done something right,” he said.
Lyttle himself also got something right — his team selection. After his goal in midweek, fans were surprised to see striker Phil Massingham relegated to the bench in favour of Jermaine Hollis.
But it was 25-year-old winger Hollis, currently enjoying his second spell at Watnall Road, who popped up with the only goal of the game just three minutes into the second half.
Man-of-the-match Matt Baxter ventured forward from his right-back role and delivered a terrific cross that tempted visiting ‘keeper Steve Hodgson. When the goalie stretched and missed, Corey Gregory fired the ball back into the area where Hollis got a toe-end to it from eight yards.
The strike sparked a ten-minute spell in which Town controlled the game with good, incisive passing and movement.
But when the killer second goal failed to arrive, they got sloppy and, in turn, supporters got nervous as Kidsgrove piled on the pressure.
Thankfully, the relegation-threatened Stoke side were unable to test ‘keeper James Lindley.
The opening half had been one of those that should be filed in the ‘Best Forgotten’ drawer.
Neither side could get a foothold, although Town went closest to scoring. Corey Gregory latched on to a cross by his namesake, Anthony Gregory, and turned for a shot that rebounded off a post. And then on-loan centre-half Liam Wakefield rose highest from a corner for a header that was cleared off the line.
THE match featured the debut, as late a substitute, of Town’s latest signing, 23-year-old centre-back Nathan Stainfield.
Lincolnshire-based Stainfield has joined on loan from Blue Square North outfit Boston United, whose joint manager is Jason Lee (40), a former teammate of Lyttle at Nottingham Forest.
Stainfield signed for Boston earlier this season after spells at Boston Town and Spalding United.