Witton Albion ensured 2016 got off to a miserable start for Harrogate Railway as they put five unanswered goals past Lee Ashforth’s men at Wincham Park.
Jay Matthews turned in a deflected free kick against the run of play after fourteen minutes, before Danny Andrews doubled Witton’s lead on the counter attack.
The hosts looked the better team in the second half, however, and added a third through Billy Reeves five minutes after the break before Rob Hopley and Andrews completed the rout.
Railway’s Manager took the opportunity to hand Chris Ovington his long-awaited debut in attack and name the returning Harry Coates at centre half.
Ovington almost made a dream start with his new club inside five minutes when Lawrance Hunter’s cross found its way to the striker at the back post only for Andy Firth to divert the ball behind.
From the resulting corner, Ryan Sharrocks rose highest to head the ball over the goalkeeper only for a recovering Albion defender to clear off the line and deny Railway an early lead.
Harrogate were in the ascendancy and again went close in the 11th minute when Coates’ header was tipped over the bar.
Carl MacAuley’ side were then presented with an opportunity to take the lead when Tom Stewart was penalised for handling just outside the area.
Andrews’ struck the free kick that hit Simon Parkes and bounced into an area in front of Stewart, with Matthews able to react first and poke home.
Railway had a succession of corners looking for an equaliser, but Witton always carried a threat on the counter attack and found a second goal after 26 minutes.
Matthews showed outstanding pace to burst down the left touchline and whip a cross into the path of Andrews who volleyed into the back of the net.
Ryan Ellison and Hopley came close to extending the hosts’ lead as the first half came to a close with Railway heading into the dressing room unfortunate to be two goals down.
Five minutes after the restart and Witton extended their advantage as Michael Brewster’s clever touch on the half-way line released Reeves through on goal and in position to slot into the bottom right corner.
Just after the hour mark, both sides had half chances with Railway substitute Marcus Day hooking an attempt wide and Hopley volleying over on the turn after some neat build up play.
Hopley then added a fourth for Witton after 67 minutes as he nodded Andrews’ lofted cross over the head of Tom Stewart and in.
MacAuley’s men were awarded a penalty five minutes later when Reeves embarked on a storming run past four Railway players and into the box, where he was brought down before being able to pull the trigger.
Andrews stepped up and struck the spot kick low down the middle to score his second and Witton’s fifth and final goal of the afternoon.
With Witton now well and truly out of sight, a quiet final 20 minutes followed with Matthews’ over hit long range effort the only action of note.
Harrogate Railway: Stewart, Parkes, Hunter, Low, Coates, Thirkell, Sharrocks (Bromley 71), Peers (Robinson 64), Ovington (Day 60), Stockdill, Mason
Subs not used: Wood, Goodwin
Witton Albion: Firth, Gardner, Dawson, Wilson, Ellison, Reeves, Brewster (Parker 78), Schofield (Roddan 57), Hopley (Parle 87), Matthews, Andrews
Subs not used: Gardner
Goals: Matthews 14, Andrews 26, 73 Reeves 50, Hopley 67
Referee: T. Kirk