WARRINGTON Town were left shell-shocked by three first half goals as they were beaten 3-1 by Ashton United.
After controlling the opening quarter of an hour, three goals in 11 minutes for the Robins sent the hosts crashing to a disappointing defeat.
Despite Josh Amis pulling one back early in the second half, the Yellows never looked like mounting a comeback and their day went from bad to worse when defender Matt Regan was controversially sent off.
Having consolidated their play-off place with a 3-0 win at Stalybridge last weekend, this looked like being an afternoon to put pressure on the teams above them for the Yellows.
Matt Grivosti forced an early save from Gregg Hartley after Amis and Luke Duffy had headed on, and Amis was aggrieved minutes later when a smart turn looked like putting him through on goal only for the referee to whistle for a head injury in back play.
A couple of half openings down the sides led to nothing and Ashton started to grow in to the game and press higher up the field.
They took the lead on 19 minutes with their first effort on goal. Florian Yonsian scuffed his shot and with the Yellows caught cold in defence, captain Michael Brewster stole in to poke home from eight yards out.
And the hosts were stunned when the lead was doubled two minutes later, Yonsian again involved.
This time he dummied inside Regan and shot, and just as it looked like ‘keeper Dan Atherton had done enough to rescue the situation, the ball squirmed from his grasp and Ben Hardcastle kept his cool to move the ball on to his left foot and shoot in to the unguarded net.
That left little margin for error for Warrington moving forwards but they couldn’t have done anything about the Ashton third.
Jack Redshaw curled in a beauty of a free-kick from the edge of the box, though the Yellows will have been aggrieved by the awarding of it in the first place – it looked like Yonsian had gone down under the challenge of his own man, Hardcastle.
The third goal prompted the early introduction of top scorer Jordan Buckley, making his first appearance in more than a month, before half-time.
Bohan Dixon was also introduced at the break, and within minutes of the restart, Buckley came agonisingly close to pulling one back, a trademark run and shot looked destined for the far corner, only for the ball to come back out off the far post.
The Yellows didn’t have to wait long for a goal though, as moments later Buckley released Amis, who steadied himself in the box and slotted a left-foot shot under Hartley for his sixth goal in the last nine games.
Unfortunately for the Yellows, Amis appeared to take a knock in scoring the goal and though he continued for the next 10 minutes or so, he never looked at full flight.
They never really looked like building on the momentum from early in the second half and the if anything, Ashton looked the more like scoring – Liam Tomsett cracking the crossbar with a piledriver from 25 yards.
The day got even tougher for the hosts on 66 minutes when a quick goal kick by Hartley released Yonsian, who was pulled back by Regan.
There looked to be at least of couple of team-mates back to help, but the referee pulled out a straight red card for the centre-back – just five games on from when he suffered the same fate at virtually the same time away at Hyde.
It all but killed any hopes of an unlikely comeback, with the only sight at goal a snap shot from Buckley that forced Hartley to save well low to his right.
Warrington’s next game is away at Radcliffe on Saturday.
Warrington Town: Atherton, Baillie, Coulton, Harris, Regan, Gumbs, Grivosti, Williams (Dixon), Amis (Duggan), Hough (Buckley), Duffy. Unused subs: Mols, Buckley-Ricketts.
Ashton United: Hartley, Lufudu, Spratts, Sheridan (Abadaki), Coates, Coker, Hardcastle, Brewster, Yonsian (Ntalu), Redshaw (Bentham), Tomsett. Unused subs: Raynes, Simpson.