West Allotment Celtic started 2015 with a defeat as they slumped to a 3-0 loss at a resurgent Newton Aycliffe.
Peter Dixon has bolstered his Aycliffe side with plenty of names from old club West Auckland, and their quality was on show from kick-off.
The dangerous trio of Dennis Knight, Jordan Laidler and Stuart Banks all caused problems early on.
But for all the attacking prowess, it was centre half Mark Stephenson who almost broke the deadlock in the game’s opening minutes, his shot blocked in the box by the returning Michael Hall.
Former Newcastle United trainee Knight went one better on ten minutes, putting Aycliffe ahead in style.
Collecting possession 30 yards out, the pacey forward ghosted past Liam Anderson and, spotting Daniel Mullen off his line, deftly lifted the ball over the top of the keeper.
In the first 30 minutes, Newton Aycliffe’s performance belied their lowly league standing - below West Allotment before the day’s play - and they could have been out of sight by half-time, Knight involved in most of their better play.
The number ten kicked off one of the moves of the game, feeding strike partner Laidler from the right. The ball was worked square to Banks, who should have done better with his one-on-one, instead denied by the legs of Mullen.
Knight went close with a free kick that flashed over, but Allotment counterpart Michael Armstrong, leading the line in his first start for the club, was forced off after sustaining a nasty cut above his eye.
Replacement Mark Waite showed his quality throughout and almost fed Liam Hudson soon after his introduction, but the latter poked a difficult chance from an ever-narrowing angle well wide of goal.
After Anderson and Hall made successive blocks in Allotment’s own area to keep the deficit narrow, Hudson was handed a gilt-edged chance to level it up.
Neat interplay between David Henderson and Sean Reid saw the visitors hit Aycliffe at pace on the counter. With just one defender in his path, Reid squared to Hudson for a simple finish but the winger could not beat James Winter from a matter of yards, the keeper parrying away the tame finish.
It would cost Allotment dearly as one minute later Aycliffe doubled their advantage at the other end.
Laidler’s clever rabona cross from the byline found Knight in the box, and though the striker’s overhead kick was less successful, the ball dropped to Banks who drilled low through the despairing defenders.
The eye-catching first half was followed by a largely forgettable second, misplaced passes and poor decision-making frequent on both sides.
Hudson spurned two further half-chances for Celtic whilst Banks should have rounded out the win from inside the box, instead skewing harmlessly wide.
He made up for it in the final throes of the game, converting a late penalty to cap off a comprehensive victory.