Ramsbottom United’s adventure in the FA Trophy came to an end when they were undone by three sucker punches in an otherwise even contest with Skrill North strugglers Worcester City on Sunday.
Having dismissed two higher league opponents in the competition already in the shape of Worksop Town and Blyth Spartans, hopes were high that they could complete the hat-trick but the only hat-trick that came was one by Worcester striker Ethan Moore.
The visitors were without their influential winger Phil Dean, who was absent through suspension so Joel Pilkington slotted into midfield in an otherwise unchanged side.
The opening exchanges were scratchy with both sides testing the water although Worcester’s Niall Thompson did have a long range effort that sailed over the bar before Grant Spencer’s free-kick found Gary Stopforth but his shot was edged for a corner.
And the visitors continued to press with Owen Roberts’ free-kick going wide on the 20 minute mark.
However, the home side – currently bottom of the Conference North – started to make their higher league quality count with Daniel Nti’s powerful shot was tipped over by Shenton.
He was denied again moments later when some indecision from the reliable Billy Priestley let in the striker but he failed to find the net.
It was, though, as Rammy pressed for the opener that Worcester struck just five minutes before the break.
As Lee Gaskell powered forward for the visitors, the move broke down and Niall Thompson took the ball through midfield, feeding Moore who stroked the ball past Shenton to break the deadlock and giving Worcester their first goal in five games in all competitions.
It was desperate for the Rams to go into the half-time interval a goal down but they had created chances, which they would certainly have been encouraged by.
That continued early in the second half when Roberts’ cross found Lee Gaskell free in the area but he was unable to place his effort on target.
Tensions started to bubble between the sides as the tackles flew in strongly – the officials struggling to keep a lid on proceedings as passions rose.
The Rams were still very much in the game as they looked to find a way through but, on 67 minutes, Moore was again the recipient.
With United guilty of taking the wrong option as they moved forward, the striker was on the end of a long ball, drove forward and stole the ball from the advancing Shenton to stroke the ball home into the empty net.
The Rams heads bowed as the second goal effectively ended the contest, although they didn’t throw in the towel completely.
Tom Brooks, on as a substitute for Jon Robinson, was thwarted by the off-side flag but the Rams continued to lose the ball all too easily. It was to be their undoing again with ten minutes left.
Some indifferent defending from the Rams allowed Moore probably the easiest hat-trick the Worcester man will ever score as he gently slotted underneath the Rams stopper.
The game petered out with the Midlanders comfortably maintaining their cushion.
Co-manager Anthony Johnson cut a disappointed figure at the end. “There wasn’t that much difference between the sides,” he admitted.
“But they scored on the counter in the first half and took their chances which probably showed the difference in the levels.
“We said before the game that we wanted to do ourselves justice, regardless of the result, and I think we did, especially in the second half.”
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Lomax, Roberts, Stopforth, Warrender (capt), Priestley, Smalley, Spencer, Robinson (Brooks 69), Gaskell (Hulme 69), Pilkington. Subs not used: Toth, Warburton, Bradbury