JEKYLL and Hyde Hucknall Town missed a gilt-edged opportunity to take a massive stride towards safety in the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League last Saturday.
At one stage, The Yellows were two goals to the good and cruising against relegation rivals Burscough, who had also been reduced to ten men through injury.
However, Town proceeded to be pegged back and had to settle for a share of the spoils from a 2-2 stalemate on an annoying afternoon at Watnall Road for Tommy Brookbanks’ charges.
The locals went into the match full of confidence after an upsurge in form that had culminated in a 6-1 rout of another of the strugglers, Ossett Town, in their previous match.
They started where they left off, playing with tremendous pace and positivity.
Twice in the opening four minutes they looked on the verge of taking the lead. On two minutes Grant Ryan, who had netted four against Ossett, found strike partner Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale, who just failed to connect.
Then, flying winger Anthony Griffith Junior crossed for Martin Ball, who headed over on four minutes.
Despite the dominance, Town almost conceded the lead when Kevin Leadbetter’s left-foot strike hit the bar and bounced out to safety.
But that just seemed to spur Town on and they took a deserved lead on 14 minutes when a quick thrown by James Jepson was chested down by Ryan into the path of Griffith Junior, who neatly sidestepped his marker to fire home from 22 yards.
Town were in complete control and were only denied a second by a great diving save by Willis in the Burscough goal as Dion Chambers’ rasping volley from 25 yards was tipped around the post.
They deservedly doubled their lead on on 36 minutes as Griffith Junior found Ryan, who in turn fed Chambers for a neat left-foot finish.
Such was Town’s superiority that the visitors made a double substitution to try and combat some impressive play from Town.
But it was a case of all eggs in one basket as Ben Hoskin had earlier been replaced, due to injury, meaning all three substitutes had been used by the 38th minute.
The tactical change was a decision that returned to haunt them in the second half as skipper James Connolly couldn’t return to the fray due to an injury sustained in the first 45. It meant Burscough would have to play the remainder of the match with ten men.
By this stage, the odds were heavily in favour of Town.
However, the Yellows put in a sluggish second-half display that saw them surrender their advantage.
Firstly, the visitors were given a foothold in the game as home skipper Wayne Diuk was robbed by Will Jones as he took far too long on the ball. The nippy Jones scuffed his shot but it somehow found its way past Ross Whalin.
The turnaround was astonishing and the majority of the 234-strong crowd would have been forgiven for thinking Town were playing a man short.
First Adam Farley headed just over from a free kick and on 75 minutes before Burscough levelled. Chris Tyson was allowed too much time to pick out Will Jones and the striker made no mistake from 12 yards as he hit his shot under Whalin for his second.
Town had two half-chances through a Griffith Junior shot that was deflected for a corner and a blocked Ryan shot that led to Jepson blasting the rebound over the bar.
But they were almost left with nothing from the game and were indebted to Callum Lloyd, who blocked a goalbound effort from Jones with his knee in the closing stages.
TOWN LINE-UP -- Ross Whalin/ David Boafo, James Jepson, Wayne Diuk (c), Martin Ball, Dion Chambers, Fabian Smith, Jared Holmes, Tyeisse Nightingale, Grant Ryan, Anthony Griffith Junior.
Subs: Rob Gill (for Boafo 81), Callum Lloyd (for Holmes 77), Grant Brindley, David Graham, Joe Phesant.