Hucknall Town put in a brave performance before exiting the Carlsberg FA Vase at the first round proper stage, losing out 3-1 to higher-ranked opponents Desborough Town.
It was the visiting keeper who was the busiest, but the clinical finishing of the livewire Michael Byrne was the difference between the teams in the end.
The Yellows had to overcome the blow of the absences of left-back Tom Crisp and Mark Smith, but Leon Aikman came back from injury to fill the left back berth, having played there for former clubs.
Byrne was earmarked by the hosts’ management as the player most likely to cause them problems - and so it proved.
After just five minutes, he ran onto a sliced clearance from Town’s centre back Cameron Davidson and chipped past a hesitant James Beddingham.
Hucknall responded well and for the next 25 minutes they took the game to Desborough, who started to become ragged an anxious.
On 17 minutes, John Whetton cut in side from the right and curled a delightful 20-yard effort into the Desborough net for a deserved equaliser.
Eugene Francis was having joy down the left and twice had shots that went just wide post with the keeper at full stretch, while several corners were forced but were scrambled clear.
Desborough were happy to concede little fouls in order to break Town’s momentum and they were always looking for the long ball into the channels for Byrne to relieve the pressure.
To his great credit, Byrne did this magnificently, showing his quality and experience, none more so than winning a free kick wide on Hucknall’s left.
The free-kick was driven hard at chest height and the Desborough number eight ran between Tristan Spencer and Sam Sims, stooping to bullet his header past Beddingham, who had little chance of making a save.
The hosts rolled their sleeves up and played well up to the interval, but could not find an equaliser.
It was a similar state of affairs after the restart, with good work rate and commitment displayed.
However, this undone by that man Byrne. A long ball up Town’s right saw him this time poke the ball past Josh Henry and his pace took him one-on-one with Beddingham, where he took advantage of hesitation from the home keeper to take the ball past him and roll into an empty net.
Hucknall again pressed, as Desborough relaxed, allowing them more of the ball, but they made too many unforced errors while passing in the final third.
Even so, there was moments of hope, as Sims and Francis brought good saves from the Desborough keeper and a big shout for a penalty from a clear hand ball by Desborough’s centre back inside his own penalty box was turned down.
Man of the match was Jeremy Moran.
Hucknall (4-5-1): James Beddingham, Montell Gatland, Josh Henry, Cameron Davidson, Leon Aikman; John Whetton, Tristan Spencer, Sam Sims, Jeremy Moran, Eugene Francis; Joe Lomax.
Subs used: Kevan Graham, Leon Wedderburn. Subs not used: Jack Ford, Mark Poyser, Aaron Macaleese.