Knaresborough Town dropped to seventh in the NCEL Division One standings when their nine-game unbeaten run came to a halt at home to Dronfield Town, on Saturday.
After a trio of fine results on the road against three of their promotion rivals in recent weeks, the shock 3-1 defeat to mid-table opposition leaves Paul Stansfield’s men 11 points behind league leaders Penistone.
Knaresborough started brightly and went close to taking a first-minute lead when Colin Heath had a firm header from a Dan McDaid centre saved by visiting gloveman Joe Taylor, who also kept out Brad Walker’s follow up before Jonty Maullin fired over.
Walker then shot too high, but Dronfield gradually began to find their feet and fired a warning shot when Blake Owen hit a dipping strike against the top of the crossbar.
At the other end, Heath nodded off-target from another McDaid cross and had a second headed chance tipped over by Taylor following Seb Carole’s centre.
Owen then shot wide of Jack Rushworth’s post and the home stopper had to make a fine save to keep out a free-kick before Knaresborough went ahead in the 35th minute.
McDaid’s free-kick was parried by Taylor, but Will Lenehan was able to head back across goal and Jonty Maullin knocked in from close range to mark his 26th birthday by giving his side the lead.
Within five minutes, Dronfield broke clear and Rushworth brought down Owen, who got to his feet to convert the resulting penalty kick.
The leveller shook Knaresborough and two minutes later Owen was given space to run through and make the score 2-1 to the visitors at the interval.
Town struggled to get going after the break and a great through-ball again found Owen who completed his hat-trick in the 58th minute.
Stansfield made an immediate triple substitution and Heath had a shot cleared from the goalline and then saw a header drop just wide.
Walker had a shot saved before Harry Webster shot over for Dronfield who were goodvalue for their lead and comfortably saw the game out.