Glossop North End were beaten 3-0 at Witton Albion following a flat and disappointing display.
This was North End’s first league game since 2nd January, when they won and went third in the league.
Between times they have seen teams below them with games in hand drop points, and still occupied third place at kick off of this this game.
With that in mind, it’s even harder to explain this flat performance.
The Hillmen started brightly enough, but once they went behind, there was an alarming lack of spark about their play.
GNE really should have been in front in the first minute when Jason Carey sent Tom Bailey scampering down the right.
His cross found Jamie Rainford at the far post, but the leading scorer couldn’t quite get good purchase on a shot.
In the 15th minute Rainford did have the ball in the net, latching on to another Carey flick, but the linesman ruled him offside.
The sea-change was signalled a minute later when Rob Hopley met a cross and hit the top of the cross bar. The momentum changed, and didn’t switch again.
On 23 minutes there was a treble chance on goal as chaos reined in the GNE box, but all three were blocked by desperate defending as the final shot deflecting onto the bar and away.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 36th minute when Witton were awarded a soft-looking free kick at the edge of the ‘D’ and Danny Andrews stepped up and lashed the ball into the top corner.
Despite the goal, the game was still reasonably even at half-time, although the Hillmen didn’t look dangerous around the Witton box.
The second half was a different story as Witton stepped on the gas and Glossop had no answer.
Andrews claimed a home penalty when it looked as though he might be tugged in the box, but the referee said no.
The ball was worked to the other end, and Rainford’s powerful drive required a good diving save from Andy Firth.
On 52 minutes a well-timed Martin Parker tackle prevented Tom Schofield shooting after a smart one-two at the edge of the area, and shortly afterwards the lively Jay Matthews’ smart backheel six yards out would have gone in had it not been straight at Luke Pilling.
Andrews had a 65th minute free-kick at the edge of the area well saved by Pilling, but nine minutes later there was yet another free-kick award at the edge.
And this time Andrews did double his goal tally and his team’s advantage when he smashed the ball down the middle, perhaps with the aid of a deflection, as Pilling appeared wrong footed.
Andrews completed his hat-trick on 88 minutes when the Hillmen pressed forward to get themselves back in the game.
However, they lost the ball in midfield and the ball was swept right for Andrews, who was unattended and able to advance into the area and shoot under Pilling.
Glossop remain third in the table, but will need to pick up their game to remain in the play-off places as the season progresses.
At the moment they are very much relying on the terrific start to the season.