Whitby Town's play-off hopes were as good as ended, on Monday, after a 5-1 humbling by champions Blyth Spartans at Croft Park.
With barely a minute on the clock, Luke Armstrong broke the deadlock for the champions. He battled well up against May, and slotted home low to Bland’s left.
The disastrous start continued for the Blues, and just ninety seconds later, the hosts doubled their advantage, with Dan Maguire bundling a loose ball off the crossbar into the net.
The Spartans weren’t to be stopped either, and increased the lead further, on 13 minutes.
A ball headed out by Andrew May found ex-Blue David McTiernan, who rifled an unstoppable volley into the top corner from 25 yards.
Whitby, despite the dominance of their hosts, did have chances.
Kieran Weledji was thwarted by a low save from Paul Woolston, before Dale Hopson attempted a chip from 25 yards, though he could only find the roof of the net.
Hardy’s men were made to rue those missed chances further, just a couple of minutes before half-time.
Armstrong, who recently signed for Middlesbrough, showed his quality again. Lee Bullock was caught flat-footed after a poor touch, allowing the forward to get in behind the Blues’ defence and finish one-on-one into the bottom left corner.
Whitby looked brighter after the break, but with the game gone they were playing almost just for pride.
Hopson did look to find a way back in for his side, and produced his 30th goal of the season, with another goal of top quality, chipping first time over Woolston from a tight angle.
The Seasiders did almost make a game of it, and could have been in with a shout of making a tense final few minutes.
The ball found a way through to Mikey Roberts, who, with his back to goal, could only put wide with a bicycle kick.
Blyth restored the four goal advantage soon after to kill off any chance of Whitby getting back into the game, with Jarrett Rivers’ cross into box finding a sly way into the back of the net.