A Michael Woods hat-trick powered Harrogate Town to a festive-feeling 4-2 win over Gloucester City at a packed CNG stadium.
Town’s third Skrill North win in a row takes them to sixth place in the table, and 1,428 fans, taking advantage of a cut-price entry offer, were there to savour the action.
Man of the match Woods scored on the stroke of half-time and added two before the hour mark, with Craig Nelthorpe rounding off the romp with a goal direct from a corner.
Town were made to weather a late storm, with determined Gloucester not content to sit back, scoring twice to keep Town fans alert until the final whistle.
Leigh Franks was a late omission from manager Simon Weaver’s squad, suffering a knock during the warm-up, meaning he was replaced in the starting line-up by Steve Mallory.
Woods was in the thick of the action from the start, narrowly shooting wide from within the box on three minutes.
Neither side was able to make an impact until Town’s Liam Hardy’s tenth minute shot which was easily saved by visiting ‘keeper Mike Green.
On 14 minutes, Town ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray was forced into action, making a superb save from Gloucester’s influential Scott Wilson.
A corner for Town on 22 minutes resulted in Cleveland Taylor getting into a strong position in the box, but a well-timed Gloucester tackle nullified the danger.
Gloucester’s Wilson continued to trouble Town’s defence, forcing a spectacular save from MacGillivray on 23 minutes.
At the other end, Craig Nelthorpe and Cleveland Taylor showed their threat by engineering a promising move on the wing, which Town were unable to profit from.
However, a Taylor cross on 43 minutes was met by Nelthorpe, whose pass enabled Woods to smash home from close-range, giving Town the half-time lead their pressure deserved.
On the stroke of half-time home boss Weaver brought Chris Hall on for Ashley Worsfold.
And, seconds into the restart, a stunning run by Hall set in-form Woods up to crack home his second of the afternoon.
Gloucester City worked their way back into the match, but, without their first-choice striker were unable to put Town’s defence under pressure.
And Town were playing with spectacular confidence, reminiscent of their first half performance in the win against Altrincham last weekend.
Adam Bolder pulled the ball across to allow Michael Woods to slot home for his hat-trick on 59 minutes to the delight of the home crowd, who may well return to see the midfielder in action, as he has now scored five times in two consecutive home matches..
Cock-a-hoop Town won a corner after 70 minutes, and Nelthorpe swung the ball home direct from the set piece.
Gloucester’s late pressure paid off, Matt Liddiard pulled one back for Gloucester City on 76 minutes, and Wilson added their second four minutes later.
And Gloucester could have had a third, Wilson threatening on the edge of the box but Town dealt with the danger.
Conor Sellars, on as a substitute, looked to have opened his Christmas present early, but even his shocking orange boots could not prevent the visiting ‘keeper from saving his 88th minute shot.
Both sides were playing entertaining football towards the end, but Town held on to secure another vital league win.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver:
“There were some exceptional individual performances today.
“Everyone performed well but Adam Bolder was playing at an incredible level, and Michael Woods was great to watch.
“I was always confident we would pick up the performance, and that happened for the second half.”
On the notable home crowd, the manager said: “I said before the game the home crowd is important, and we had a huge home support today.”
Town travel to Worcester City next Saturday, December 21 (kick-off 3pm).
Harrogate Town: MacGillivray, Bloomer, Nelthorpe, Bolder, Mallory, Killock, Hardy (Sellars, 76), Abbott, Worsfold (Hall, 43), Woods (Nowakowski, 83), Taylor.
Subs not used: Brown,, Merris.
Gloucester City: Green, Keiddian, Liddiard, Giglio, Coupe, Mckenzie, Webb (Edwards, 55), Kotwica (Parker, 79), Mullings, Wilson, Marford, Groves.
Subs not used: Phillips, Mustoe, Green.
Referee: J Hunt