Simon Weaver’s Harrogate Town endured a miserable 90 minutes at the hands of visitors Solihull Moors on Saturday, crashing to a 4-2 defeat at the CNG Stadium.
Having picked up just one point from their last two matches, Town were hoping to get their promotion push back on track.
But any thoughts of a comfortable afternoon rapidly began to evaporate during a poor first half.
With prolific marksman Dom Knowles now installed at Burton Albion, the lack of a goalmachine was only too apparent. Chances were few, and Town’s leaky defence was caught napping once again.
It had all begun so promisingly.
In brilliant sunshine, Town got off to a decent start, Chib Chilaka ballooning the side-netting with a rifled shot, before a second attempt forced a parry from Solihull’s Jasbir Singh.
Michael Woods then blasted a powerful centre which drifted just wide, and Paul Beesley went close before dinking the ball over the goal.
But when the early goal refused to arrive, Town’s early drive went missing and the game quickly dissolved into a typical end of season encounter, neither team really creating any genuine scoring chances.
And Town taking their foot off the gas left the door open for Moors to try their luck.
They carved out a great opportunity when Ryan Beswick latched on to Adam Bolder’s loose pass, working it back upfield. Winger Dior Angus lashed the ball across the face of goal but portly striker Gary Birch and midfielder Darryl Knights were too slow in reaching it.
Angus attempted a shot from out wide, but Town’s Craig MacGillivray had it covered.
At the other end, Chilaka was still trying. Moving in from out wide, his pass to Danny Forrest was backheeled into the path of Beesley, who didn’t read the move and the chance was gone.
Beswick’s accurate free kick drew a diving save out of MacGillivray, still the score stayed 0-0.
But not for long.
Ghosting in from the right wing in the 34th minute, striker Omar Bogle shook off Dave Merris and Shane Killock to hold the ball up, turn and fire past MacGillivray for a quality goal.
Bogle tried his luck again six minute later from the opposite wing, his shot along the ground skimming just wide.
As Town found themselves under increasing pressure from their visitors, a clumsy clearance from Alan White gifted Moors a corner in the 43rd minute.
Beswick delivered a superb ball and completely unmarked, Bogle popped up and nodded home the visitors’ second.
Two-nil down at the start of the second half, Weaver made no changes to his team.
A foul by Bogle on Samuels handed Merris a free kick, Nowakowski’s header going close but not enough to outfox Singh.
Things then got a whole lot worse for Town, when Adam Bolder was sent off for a second bookable offence. The punishment seemed overly harsh, but it teed up a perfect chance for Moors to score their third of the afternoon in the 55th minute.
Bogle delivered a stunning 20-yard free kick which sailed straight over MacGillivray to secure the striker’s hat-trick.
The ten men of Town had it all to do, but things went from bad to worse when Nowakowski was booked for a foul on Knights on the left wing..
From Beswick’s resulting free kick, Solihull’s skipper Tom Kemp toepoked home from the edge of the box, Town’s defence at sixes and sevens.
Weaver had seen enough, swapping Woods, Beesley and Forrest for Luke Dean, Colin Larkin and Dan Clayton in the 62 minute.
White was booked for a foul on Bogle in the 66th minute, Town supporters desperately urging the skipper to walk away as he began to protest.
A ray of light finally appeared for Town with a Solihull gaffe, a sliced backpass.
From the free kick on the penalty spot, Dean made no mistake, delivering an accurate curling ball to net Town’s first of the afternoon after 71 minutes of play.
It signalled the start of a fightback, Chilaka winning a corner.
Merris fired in, Killock nodding across goal to Chilaka, who headed over the net.
Chilaka then missed a tap-in after Larkin’s cross in from the right, defender Karl Broadhurst just getting in front.
Larkin and Nowakowski were both agonsingly close but Singh was proving a rock in goal, also denying a powerful Dean volley, which he punched out for a corner.
From that, and in the resulting melee, Clayton was shoved to the ground by Beswick and the referee pointed to the spot.
Dean calmly blasted the ball into the bottom left corner to reduce the defecit to 4-2 with two minutes on the clock.
Town continued to push but the game was gone, and they have it all to do on Tuesday when Gloucester City are the visitors.
In other news, Harrogate Railway were beaten 4-1 away at Bamber Bridge, Jesus scoring the only goal.
In the NCEL Premier, Tadcaster Albion were 2-1 winners at Liversedge, scorers Josh Barrett and Stuart Rice.
Knaresborough Town were felled 1-0 away at Louth Town in the NCEL First Division, beaten by a Daryl Clare strike in the 84th minute.
Harrogate Town: Craig MacGillivray, Dwayne Samuels, Dave Merris, Adam Bolder, Alan White, Shane Killock, Adam Nowakowski, Michael Woods (Larkin 61), Paul Beesley (Dean 62), Chib Chilaka, Danny Forrest (Clayton 62); Subs not used Jonny Allen, Matt Bloomer.
Solihull Moors: Jasbir Singh, Luke Connolly, Samue Joseph, Jay Denny, Tom Kemp, Karl Broadhurst, Darryl Knights, Ryan Beswick, Omar Bogle, Gary Birch, Dior Angus (Jake Brown 85); Subs not used Darren Acton, Sheridan Martinez, Marcus Bignot.
Cards: Bolder (red), White, Nowakowski (yellow)