A superb individual display from James Walshaw helped Harrogate Town dismantle Brackley town 5-0 in the Conference North.
With Hallowe’en still a week away, Saints served up a horror show as Harrogate ran in four first half goals with Walshaw grabbing a hat-trick.
The visitors should have taken a third minute lead following good work by Shaun Jeffers on the right but a golden goal chance went begging for what proved to be Saints’ only sight of goal in a desperate first period.
Harrogate were ahead on six minutes as Lloyd Kerry’s free-kick struck the bar and Walshaw followed up to head home.
Kerry fired another free-kick over, saw his far post effort just wide and hit a shot across the goal.
Then left winger Craig Nelthorpe twisted and turned to create space on the edge of the penalty area before firing low past Billy Turley to double the lead and signal the beginnings of a miserable afternoon for the veteran keeper on his 150th appearance for Brackley.
Walshaw’s movement and confidence on the ball created all sorts of problems for a static defence reorganised in Dwayne Samuels’ absence with Tom Sharpe moving across to right-back and Curtis McDonald partnering Ryan Austin at centre-back.
It was Walshaw who stabbed home for a third goal on just 29 minutes as statuesque defending opened the path to goal.
Saints brought on Michael Built and Joe Curtis for Greg Pearson and Eric Odhiambo but there was no holding a Harrogate side in full flight.
Unchallenged Nelthorpe headed just wide before a poor back pass allowed Walshaw to charge down Turley’s clearance, the ball falling to the marauding striker who joyfully volleyed the ball into an unguarded net.
Saints were forced into a third substitution just before the break as Jeffers forced off with an injury and replaced by Ryan Rowe.
With the game essentially over as a contest, the second half was a dour affair with few goal chances although Ryan Rowe’s free-kick was deflected for a first Saints corner of the game on 67 minutes and late on Rowe was thwarted one on one by keeper Phil Barnes.
Harrogate almost benefited from a freak own goal and Walshaw lobbed wide when well placed as Turley advanced before Nelthorpe bagged his second goal of the game with six minutes remaining.
Collecting the ball on the half-way line, he made progress and cut inside before unleashing a swerving shot that found the corner to Turley’s right in a spectacular finale for Harrogate and a final indignity for Saints.
The win sees embattled Harrogate leapfrog Brackley, jumping four places as Saints’ run of five league games without conceding was blown away and barren run in front of goal goes on.
Brackley: Turley, McDonald, Carruthers, Eddie Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Nelson-Addy, Whittall, Jeffers (Rowe 44), Pearson (Curtis 33), Eric Odhiambo (Built 33).
Harrogate: Barnes, Bloomer, Meynell, Featherstone, Killock, McGurk (Rowe 44), Kerry, Lenighan (Nowakowski 75), Speight, Walshaw, Nelthorpe.