Harrogate Town lost significant ground in the National League North title race when they went down 2-1 at home to Spennymoor Town on Tuesday evening.
Simon Weaver’s side went into the match just a point behind leaders Salford City and with a game in hand, but this loss combined with a comprehensive victory for the Ammies at Blyth leaves the Wetherby Road outfit four points off the pace.
The first half was a complete non-event in terms of goalmouth action, the only real incident of any note occurring just before the interval.
With just seconds to go until the half-time whistle, Town centre-half Liam Kitching dived in on Robert Ramshaw inside the Spenny half, missing the ball by some distance.
There was little, if any contact, but the lunge was wild and the visiting midfielder rolled around on the floor until referee Mr Barrott produced a red card, then got up and strolled away apparently unscathed.
Town were forced into a re-shuffle with Ryan Fallowfield coming on at right-back, Warren Burrell taking Kitching’s place at centre-half and Joe Leesley departing, much to his disappointment.
The second period began brightly for the hosts, substitute Fallowfield bursting forward from right-back and seeing his cross-shot from a tight angle tipped wide by Daniel Lowson.
The resulting corner was missed by the visiting stopper and flew across the face of goal, but nobody in a yellow and black shirt was on hand to convert at the back post.
If those two moments offered a flicker of encouragement that then 10 men could go on and get a result despite their numerical disadvantage, this hope was quickly extinguished.
With 54 minutes on the clock, disaster struck when big Spenny centre-half James Curtis headed a right-wing corner into the home net.
Town responded immediately by bringing on Jake Wright for Dominic Knowles up front, but just after the hour-mark, things got worse for the hosts.
Fallowfield lost his footing as he attempted to chest a long ball into the box back to James Belshaw, allowing Andrew Johnson a clear run on goal and an easy finish for 2-0.
In truth, the home side didn’t really look like getting a goal back, but they did just that in the 83rd minute when Jack Emmett’s ball into the six-ayrd box from the right was smashed home by Mark Beck.
Substitute Jordan Thewlis then sent a threatening ball across the face of goal from close to the left byline, but it was just too high for the waiting Beck and glanced off the top of his head and away.
Town forced a couple of scrambles in the away box in the closing stages, but Spennymoor successfully managed to see the game out with the aid of some blatant, yet unpunished time-wasting and the points were theirs.