Jekyll & Hyde Boro suffer defeat on the road
Scarborough Athletic's play-off hopes suffered a huge hammer blow on Saturday as they produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance on the outskirts of Manchester.
Boro took the lead after a effervescent start to the contest, but they then fell away, stung by a string of silly errors.
With the battle for play-off places really beginning to heat up, Boro must now set off on a trailblazing run of form to keep them in with a shout.
Boss Steve Kittrick was boosted going into the game by the return of Adam Bolder into midfield and also Matty Turnbull's swift recovery from an ankle injury.
The visitors made a positive start to the fixture, with some sharp link-up play giving the Hyde defence nightmares.
Boro were having to keep a watchful eye on the pace of Jamal Branker though, as the wideman forced Jameel Ible into making a fine saving tackle after his drive into the box.
After surviving another minor scare when Laurie Bell dragged a shot wide, Boro moved a goal in front.
Jacob Hazel streaked free on the left and delivered a cross to pick out Craig Nelthorpe on the back post. He met the ball with his head, it bounced up off the 3G turf, smacked against the bar and settled in the back of the net.
Boro could have added to their advantage, but Hazel was caught in two minds after breaking free for a second time. Then Bolder collected the ball on the penalty spot, but his shot grazed the top of the bar.
After controlling much of the play, disaster struck in the lead up to the half-time oranges, with Boro conceding two very sloppy goals.
Matthew Beadle was sent streaking clear of the Boro defence, he beat a stranded Jordan Porter to the ball and slotted home. Both players got embroiled in a bout of handbags when Beadle should probably have been celebrating his equaliser.
Jamie Price then gave the ball away in the middle of the park, Branker turned on the afterburners and comfortably finished to turn the game on its head.
Boro withdrew Turnbull at the break, due to his heavy legs, but that didn't provide much of a boost to the travellers.
Hyde proceeded to produce a string of good opportunities, the best seeing Price hack the ball off the line following a melee in the box.
A further blow was dealt to Boro when Porter was withdrawn with a leg injury, Tom Morgan taking his place between the sticks.
Morgan was kept busy in the moments that followed, watching sub Niall Flint head off his line and then the keeper made a brilliant point-blank save from former Boro man Paddy Miller.
Boro began to come back into it when Billy Logan whipped in a delightful ball that just evaded the toe of Hazel, but Hyde remained a huge threat.
They should have bagged another when Beadle was presented with an open goal, Morgan somehow managed to spring into action and pounce on the ball.
The third was always coming though, and again it was the pace of Branker that provided the breakthrough.
The diminutive attacker sped clear of a static Boro defence and had no problem in rolling the ball home for his second.
Boro threw caution to the wind in the final minutes, having a couple of good penalty shouts and then trimming the lead back to one.
Matt Lucid on his league debut for the club, looped a header over keeper Russ Saunders and a number of defenders to give Boro some hope.
But frustratingly, it was too little too late, as Hyde clung on for the victory.