Tadcaster Albion’s season came back to earth with a bump on Saturday in a frustrating afternoon at Basford United.
The Brewers crashed 5-3 to their third-placed hosts, who remain unbeaten since the arrival of former England international Lee Hendrie.
Manager Paul Marshall was furious at the day’s events.
“It was one of those days when everything transpired against us.” he said.
Marshall’s plans were ripped apart minutes before the team’s journey south when he received confirmation from the West Riding County FA that Denny Ingram and Richard Batley were both suspended for the clash.
Matters worsened when defender Matt Sparkes headed into his own net five minutes in, before Basford raced into a 4-0 lead.
Injuries to Will Pepper and top goalscorer Carl Stewart extended troubles before a second-half 21-man brawl soured Marshall’s mood further.
Tad’ goalkeeper Leon Wrigglesworth saw red for his part in the stoppage as both sides were reduced to ten men.
A late brace from teenager Mitch Hamilton almost spared the nightmare day but Jamie Williamson missed a last-ditch chance to equalise before United sealed the points with a fifth.
“The day started badly and then finished badly,” he said.
“I am absolutely fuming with the West Riding FA. Our last game was on the 21st and we got told on January 4.
“If I had set off 15 minutes later we would have played them both and got fined or docked points.
“It screwed all our plans up. We had to change things around and unfortunately it didn’t go too well.”
Striker Danny Critchlow went between the sticks after Wrigglesworth’s dismissal. After his sending-off, the ‘keeper refuted he had done anything wrong.
“I feel hard done by from the decision to send me off,” Wrigglesworth said.
“There was more than just me with raised hands in the brawling.
“Sometimes things go for you in football and sometimes they don’t, that was one of the days where the decisions didn’t go our way.”
The fight broke out after Stuart Rice tricked his way past a defender and was floored.
Marshall defended his side’s actions and insisted no Albion players hit out in their support of Rice.
He said: “The videos show none of our players threw any punches. We are comfortable with that.
“There were quite a few punches thrown, Leon took one, Nick Thompson took one.
“It was an unsavoury incident but it wasn’t started by us. I wouldn’t have condoned us starting trouble like that.
“Our reaction was to try and help our teammates and not lie down and let people punch us. “I was happy with that.
“Leon didn’t throw any punches but he ran 50 or 60 yards and piled on top. Ricey’s his best mate and he didn’t want his best mate to be hit.
“It’s wrong what he did but he had a moment where he need to help his friend.”
Wrigglesworth, Pepper and Stewart are all likely to miss this Saturday’s home clash against Lincoln Moorlands Railway. Ingram, Batley and goalkeeper Peter Lawrie will return to the squad.
Marshall also confirmed he has made “three or four” seven-day approaches to strikers across the region.
“We must get nine points from our next three games,” he added.