ROUTE One Rovers finished with a flourish last night, as the Bradford side earned a statement win in their promotion push at Garstang.

Zak Khan’s first-half double put the visitors 2-1 up at the break in this North West Counties Football League First Division North clash, but the game was still in the balance until the death.

But Rovers flexed their goalscoring muscles in second-half stoppage time as Khan completed his hat-trick, before Muhammad Arshad wrapped up a 4-1 victory.

Route One have already scored 74 goals in the division this season, and to put that into context, only one other side has even passed 60 as yet.

Garstang are battling grimly against relegation, but you would not have known it in the early stages of last night’s game.

Route One’s McKenzie Borek usually plays outfield but had to fill in between the sticks last night, not for the first time in his career.

And his natural goalkeeping instincts showed as he made two fine saves in the opening 15 minutes to keep Route One on level terms.

Mo Subhani had cracked an early shot inches wide for Rovers though, so it was not all one-way traffic.

Route One soon started to get on top, and after a controversial call which saw Musa Jallow booked for diving when he went down as he raced in on goal, the visitors had their frustrations eased a few minutes later.

A free kick for Rovers was deflected perfectly into Gauderic Totap’s path, and he laid the ball off for Khan, who took a touch before firing a strike into the top corner, via the aid of a deflection, to give his side the lead.

Totap then skinned his full-back and fired a shot off the post, before out of nowhere, Garstang equalised.

Route One felt there was a foul on Awais Khan in the build-up but the referee waved play on and Daniel Birch finished off the home side’s attack, heading home from Joel Darley’s cross, to make it 1-1 after 35 minutes.

The fired-up visitors immediately went up to the other end and won a penalty when Khan drove into the box and was brought down.

He picked himself, dusted himself down, and scored from 12 yards to put his side back in front going into the break.

Garstang came out with the bit between their teeth and were all over Rovers in the early stages of the second half, with Borek making one particularly good save after 55 minutes.

Route One had created a couple of half-chances after the interval but little else, so they were indebted to a huge lifeline when the referee sent off a home player with 20 minutes to go.

And yet Garstang kept up the pressure and looked the more likely to get that all important fourth goal of the game.

But captain Jonathan Mwembie and his defence held firm, and after soaking up pressure from the hosts, Route One broke away three minutes into injury-time.

They were clinical where Garstang were not, with Khan slotting the ball home to complete his hat-trick.

And a wonderful fourth goal from Arshad a few moments later rounded off the scoring, as he dribbled past several opposition defenders before sliding the ball into the net.

The win takes Route One up to second, though the play-offs are likely to be their limit, given only the title winners go up automatically, and FC St Helens are currently top by 10 points, with two games in hand over Rovers.

Over in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division on Tuesday night, struggling Eccleshill United took a surprise early lead at Garforth Town through Zack Sangster.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Zack Sangster (left) put Eccleshill ahead on Tuesday night, but that lead was very short-lived.Zack Sangster (left) put Eccleshill ahead on Tuesday night, but that lead was very short-lived. (Image: Martin Taylor.)

But Jamie Barkway equalised within seconds of the restart, before Rinor Ejupi completed a remarkable turnaround for the hosts in the space of just two minutes.

Eccleshill made it to half-time avoiding any further damage, but Sam Barker’s goal eight minutes after the interval saw them off in the end.

The 3-1 defeat means Eccleshill remain just four points clear of the drop.

It was a frustrating night for out-of-form Silsden, whose mid-table encounter at Barton Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

The same fate befell Campion, who were due to be in West Riding County Cup quarter-final action at Pontefract Collieries.

Guiseley did play their quarter-final at Nethermoor as they edged out visiting Ossett United on penalties.

Michael Afuye scored a lovely solo goal to put the Lions in front just before half-time and the hosts dominated throughout.

But Leigh Whelan was sent off for a second bookable offence with 20 minutes to go to give Ossett a lifeline, which they took with a late equaliser from Rafa Ferreira.

But poor Ferreira turned from hero to villain after the game had finished 1-1, as he and Edney Castro missed their spot-kicks in the subsequent shootout.

That meant Liam Tongue’s miss from the spot did not prove costly, as Guiseley won 7-6 on penalties, thus advancing into the last-four of the competition.