Harrogate Railway 0-7 Warrington Town
Harrogate Railway boss Lee Ashforth demanded a quick response from his battling squad after Tuesday night's 7-0 mauling by runaway leaders Warrington Town.
After their surprising yet excellent draw against Northwich Victoria on Saturday, Warrington brought Railway back to earth with a bump in the relegation fighters' heaviest defeat of the season.
The points were all but sealed inside 23 minutes by the visiting side who played with the distinct swagger of a team marching towards the title.
Railway's hopes of gaining a point were always minimal but it all but diminished inside two minutes when Gerard Kinsella put the Yellows in front when first to react to Harry Coates' block of the goal line.
It was the first of a number of classy finishes. The second came ten minutes later when Scott Metcalfe found space on the vacant left wing and drilled into the bottom corner past young goalkeeper Chandler Hallwood. The space had come available as the referee played a good advantage in the middle of the park from a clattering foul by out of position right-back Luca Mellor.
Any thought of a Railway fightback were put to bed when the tricky Joseph Holt forced home a third midway through the half, the ball clipping the inside of Hallwood's near post on its way in.
Railway were unable to sustain any spell of possession and were increasingly frustrated by the lineman's flag and the unwillingness of their strikeforce to hold up the ball.
Like the first half, Warrington's dominance continued almost immediately after the interval when Metcalfe's deep free-kick cannoned back off the upright and Ben Deegan poked home the loose ball.
Waves of Warrington attacks followed before Kinsella netted undoubtedly the goal of the game with a rasping volley from the edge of the box, which simply had too much power for Hallwood to handle.
The sixth came with 15 minutes remaining when substitute Jack Stockdill, who later sustained a reoccurrence of his long-term ankle injury, committed a clumsy foul inside the Railway box and Steven Gillespie dispatched the ensuing spot-kick.
Within two further minutes it became an embarrassing seven, when Ciaran Kilheeney headed home a deep cross from the right.
Even though the small gaggle of Warrington supporters sung for eight, their impressive team lifted their foot from the acceleration pedal in the final ten minutes to save further humiliation on Railway, who will know easier tests are ahead.
Returning winger Rob Youhill was one bright note of few for the hosts with a rumbustious performance on the wing but often his deliveries into the box were easy to defend with no supporting strikers attacking.
After suffering his heaviest defeat as a manager, Ashforth was full of admiration for Warrington and remained defiant over his side's survival chances.
Ashforth said: “Today was a free hit, of course it was disappointing, it's the biggest defeat I have had as a manager. It wasn't an easy place to be in the dugout but that's the way it is. We have played the best team in the division and they showed it.
“We have far more important games now, with 13 games that I believe are all winnable games.
“I believe the squad is good enough to keep us in the division. We are not going to be playing teams like Warrington and Northwich every week.
“They are looking like they can get results, they are happy and there's a big belief in themselves. “They need to keep believing after what's happened tonight. It's only one game which we need to forget about and move on.
“As much as you don't want to be in a relegation fight, we have got something to play for. It's going to go down to the wire. Ossett Town are improving massively, Scarborough have picked up three points but Droylsden and Radcliffe are getting pulled back into it.
“There's a lot of points to play for and a lot of twists and turns to come. It's fair to say New Mills aren't going to get out of that bottom two now, so it's down to who finish in 21st place.”
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