A LAST-minute equaliser for ten-man Hucknall Town took the wind out of the sails of former manager Tommy Brookbanks on Tuesday night.
Brookbanks’s current club, Stamford, looked poised to complete an Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South double over The Yellows with a 1-0 victory.
But with time almost up, Town, who had seen striker Phil Massingham sent off back in the 51st minute, snatched the point that their plucky performance deserved.
Substitute Matt Baxter was the architect, delivering a terrific cross from the left. The ball eventually broke to top scorer Grant Ryan and when his effort was palmed away by ‘keeper Ross Whalin, up popped right-back Kieran Walker to bravely nod home his first goal for the club from close range.
Whalin was one of no fewer than SEVEN ex-Town players in the squad of promotion-chasing Stamford.
The others were defenders Wayne Diuk and Joe Pheasant, midfielders Nathan Watson and recent acquisition Jared Holmes and substitutes Nick Ghislanzoni and Kieran Watson.
Holmes impressed but otherwise, The Yellows more than held their own against The Daniels, whose form has been decidedly mixed since the arrival of Brookbanks and sidekick Gary Stones — just six wins and 22 points from 15 league games.
Indeed Town might well have won but for the red card shown to Massingham for violent conduct after he had elbowed Stamford centre-half Dean Whiley, who had been persistenty tapping at the ankles of the striker.
The Yellows had opened the game brightly and were unlucky not to go in front when player/coach Craig Armstrong rattled the bar with a header from a corner.
In contrast, the home side’s breakthrough goal was heavily tinged with good fortune as a shot from Bruno Holden took a deflection that looped the ball over goalkeeper James Lindley.
As the half wore on, Stamford midfielders Danny Brooks and David Staff were given far too much freedom, allowing them to dictate play.
And after a ferocious free-kick from Brooks had been brilliantly saved by Lindley, the dismissal of Massingham appeared to signal game-over for Town.
But instead they were galvanised by the decision and thanks to good organisation, tigerish workrate and pressure on the ball, they turned the game round.
Stamford lost their shape and their only chance of the half came when Armstrong cleared an effort from Holden after he had latched on to a stray backpass from Yellows substitute Craig Reid and rounded Lindley.
Manager Des Lyttle sensed his chance and pushed more men forward to snatch the goal that could yet have a big bearing on the race for the promotion play-offs.
THE Notts FA Senior County Cup quarter-final at home to local-derby rivals and holders, Eastwood Town, has been switched from Tuesday March 6 to Wednesday March 14 (kick-off 7.45 pm).