Corby Town had a night to forget at Doncaster Rovers’ highly impressive Keepmoat Stadium as they were destroyed 6-1 by Harrogate Town.
There was no sign of the carnage to come after a goalless and pretty even first period in south Yorkshire.
But some sloppy defending and a couple of dubious refereeing decisions changed the face of the game as Corby had Carl Piergianni sent off as well as conceding two penalties.
New signing Francis Green was handed a place on the substitutes’ bench by manager Chris Plummer, who made two changes to the side that beat Stalybridge Celtic in Corby’s last outing just over two weeks ago.
Ryan Semple and Nathan Horne both came into the side with Sam Ives and Liam Richardson dropping to the bench.
It was a fairly low-key start with Danny Forrest shooting wide for the hosts before having another effort blocked.
But it was the Steelmen who created the first opportunity of note. Semple whipped in a free-kick from the left and Carl Piergianni challenged home goalkeeper Jose Veiga for the ball.
It fell to Josh Moreman and his fierce volley was brilliantly cleared off the line by Alan White.
If that was a good chance, an even better one soon followed. A blistering counter-attack saw Moreman find Marc Manga and he sent Ryan Semple clean through. But the winger shot wide when he probably should have scored.
Harrogate finally got an attempt on target when White headed straight at Paul Walker from a corner before Semple curled a shot wide at the other end.
Chib Chilaka, who looked a real handful, fired high and wide from a narrow angle before the break but the first chance of the second period fell to Corby’s Lewis Webb who saw his shot deflected wide.
But the game changed in the space of one crazy minute as Harrogate took a 2-0 lead.
There was a hint of good fortune about the first as Robbie Youhill’s shot found its way in with the aid of a wicked deflection.
And the Corby defence were still gathering their thoughts when Harrogate poured forward with their new signing Dominic Knowles playing in Chilaka who fired past Walker.
But a bad night soon became disastrous for the Steelmen. Jason Crowe was adjudged to have bundled over Dwayne Samuels in the area and Knowles stepped up to make it 3-0.
Even worse was to follow. No sooner had Green and Sam Ives been thrown on from the bench, Piergianni was heading the other way when he brought down Chilaka. The red card was shown by referee Anthony Tankard, much to Plummer’s fury, and Chilaka rubbed salt into the wounds by scoring from the resulting penalty.
The deflated Steelmen were soon 5-0 down as Knowles waltzed through the non-existent defence before grabbing his second of the night.
But a bit of pride was restored with 10 minutes to go when Green grabbed a goal on his debut after being set up by Tom McGowan.
However, the final word went to the hosts as they wrapped up a convincing win with substitute Adam Baker grabbing the sixth.
Harrogate: Veiga; Samuels, White (sub Radcliffe, 61 mins), Bloomer, Merris; Youhill (sub Dean, 85 mins), Bolder, Bolland, Forrest; Knowles, Chilaka (sub Baker, 78 mins). Subs not used: Elam, Beesley.
Steelmen: Walker; Horne, Malone, Piergianni, Crowe; Webb (sub Ives, 67 mins), Wedderburn; Semple (sub Richardson, 78 mins), McGowan, Moreman; Manga (sub Green, 67 mins). Subs: Richardson, Vieira, Ives, Kaziboni, Green.
Referee: Anthony Tankard.
Goals: Youhill (50 mins, 1-0), Chilaka (51 mins, 2-0), Knowles pen (61 mins, 3-0), Chilaka pen (69 mins, 4-0), Knowles (75 mins, 5-0), Green (80 mins, 5-1), Baker (87 mins, 6-1).
Sending-off: Piergianni (professional foul).