Vauxhall Motors 1, Hucknall Town 3: FOR the second time in less than week, the Motormen played themselves into the lead against a top side, only for their defensive shortcomings to cost them dearly.
The latest setback has left manager Owen Brown still seeking his first league victory.
"The club has had defensive frailties all season and they are still present - we thought we had taken a few steps forward on that front, but unfortunately today, we took a couple of steps back," admitted the manager.
"We are paying for basic mistakes really, over-playing in the wrong areas of the field. We can't stress this enough to the lads. If the lads presently in possession of the shirts keep making mistakes, then we have got to look to replace them.
"We are looking hard for the type of player we need to strength our defence. We need to be mean, we need to give our creative players a platform to play on and we're not doing that. We play some good football at times, we are capable of scoring real quality goals, but you have to give them a platform to work with."
The Motormen went into this game against championship-chasing Hucknall believing they could build upon recent performances and surprise the opposition - and they did just that after just two minutes with a stunning strike to take the lead.
Wayne McDermott and Terry Fears did the spade work, playing the ball out left to Paul Robertson and his deep cross to the far post was driven home first time by Peter Cumiskey from ten yards, for his 18th goal of the season.
But Hucknall fought back to level on 19 minutes, when Dean Barrick's long free-kick was headed on by Gary Ricketts, enabling Danny Bacon to lob home the equaliser.
Shortly after, Fearns had a tremendous header superbly saved by Adam Sollitt, McDermott wasted a great opening on the edge of the area, while Jon McCarthy fired over a loose ball at the other end from just ten yards out.
And then, on the half hour, Mike Kinsella was beaten for a second time, but only after he had made a fine save to deny Ricketts from McCarthy's right wing cross. Unfortunately, the rebound fell nicely for the Hucknall striker to stab home at the second attempt.
The Motormen did not deserve to be trailing at the break, but it became even worse just five minutes after the interval when the run of the ball again favoured the visitors.
This time, Craig Robinson sliced his attempted defensive clearance, which dropped perfectly for the unmarked Danny Mayman at the far post to head home despite being under severe pressure from the out-rushing Kinsella.
It left Vauxhalls with a mountain to climb. They spent the vast majority of the next 40 minutes prod-ding and probing just outside the visitors' penalty area, but Hucknall remained solid as the home side failed to carve them open.
Sollitt did have to make one hasty punched clearance at his near post to thwart a Cumiskey free kick arrowing for the net late on, but the points were on their way to Nottinghamshire by then.
Indeed, it could have ended up looking even worse, but for Roy Hunter's fierce drive clipping the top of the Motors' bar in the final minute.
VAUXHALL: Kinsella, Spellman, McDermott, Robinson, McAuley, Lynch (Rey 71), Nesbitt, Lawton, Fearns, Robertson (Macauley 10), Cumiskey. Sub not used: Whelan.
* NEW signing Carl Macauley played his longest spell for the first team after coming on as a 10th-minute substitute and the former Burscough captain looks a highly promising capture.
Striker Aaron Rey, 20, also enjoyed his first senior appearance at Rivacre Park and again did not disap-point.
Meanwhile, long-term casualty Mike Tomlinson is due to see a bone specialist this week.
On Saturday (3pm), the Motormen will be trying once again to glean some important UniBond Premier Division league points at Rivacre Park at home to another fancied side, Worksop Town. But they will be without their versatile captain Kevin Lynch (suspended).
The club's under-15s reached the quarter-finals of the Cheshire County Junior Cup with a 6-0 thrashing of Halebarns. On the scoresheet were Tom Cutts, James Pierce, Bobby Hart, Alex Murphy, Dean Lewis and Nick Pollitt, while keeper Jonathan Shaw made two excellent saves early in the second half.