Louis Mayers’ hat-trick prevented Harrogate Railway moving out of the drop zone on Saturday afternoon as they were beaten 3-1 by fifth placed Clitheroe.
Mayers produced a contender for goal of the season after 11 minutes, sending a left footed volley swirling into the far corner, though Amar Purewal pulled Railway level from the spot in first half stoppage time.
Clitheroe’s number ten restored The Blues’ lead three minutes after the re-start, scrambling in a low cross before completing his hat-trick after the hour mark when Brandon Barski was brought down inside the area.
Simon Garner’s side were forced to play the final ten minutes a man down after goalkeeper Ben Woodhead sustained an injury, but the visitors saw out the rest of the game with full back James Walker between the sticks.
Lee Ashforth made three changes from last weekend’s defeat to Lancaster City, replacing Dan Barrett, Daniel Devine and the suspended Harry Coates with Chris Ovington, Will Peers and Luca Mellor.
It was the former Ossett Town man Ovington who had the first shot of the afternoon, shooting over after running half the length of the pitch and cutting in on his right foot.
Mayers then sparked the contest into life as he allowed a cross field pass to run across his body before arrowing a volley into the opposite corner.
Sefton Gonzales almost doubled Clitheroe’s lead just three minutes later, looping a header goalwards only for Peers to head off the line.
Purewal then showed a glimpse of why his move to Railway caught the eye of so many as he outmuscled a defender on his way towards goal before shooting into the arms of Woodhead.
Just after the half hour mark, Chandler Hallwood showed fine reflexes to deny Barski after the wide man had produced some nice footwork to get his shot away, but it was Railway who went into the break with their tails up.
With seconds remaining until the whistle, Clitheroe player-manager Garner conceded a spot kick as he tripped Nathan Curtis, moments after the striker had deceived defenders with a neat turn inside the area.
Purewal stepped up and sent Woodhead the wrong way for his third Harrogate goal to give Railway a lift just before the interval.
The lead was short lived however, as three minutes after play resumed, a low cross from the left was not dealt with, allowing Mayers to scramble in his second, despite the best efforts of Alex Low on the line.
The visitors were then given the chance to extend their lead on the hour mark when Mellor was fractionally too late and body checked Barski a few feet inside the area.
Report by Hal Boxhall-Docree