NABIL Shariff scored a hat-trick for AFC Rushden & Diamonds to condemn Northwich Victoria to a third successive home defeat.

Worryingly for Vics manager Paul Moore, his side have conceded 11 goals in those games.

A win for Rugby, at Romulus, leaves them four points adrift of a position of safety.

Goalkeeper Dylan Forth had already blocked a Shariff shot with his boot before the front man turned provider for Jack Bowen to head an opening goal from close range.

A second goal followed on 17 minutes, this time when Shariff, left unmarked, glanced Sam Brown’s long throw into the net.

Vics, who included new recruit Lingbouba Cesaire from the start, were denied at the other end when Liam Dolman timed perfectly a tackle to stop Jack Kelleher in shooting stride.

However their luck was out, and they had a bizarre penalty awarded against them when full-back Matty Clarke caught the ball after the linesman had flagged for a foul.

Referee Ben Atkinson had played an advantage though.

Forth saved Shariff’s poorly-struck spot kick, then Stuart McDonald converted a penalty at the other end after Brad Harris handled Kelleher’s shot.

Any hopes Vics had of mounting a fight-back ended after an hour when Shariff, again given too much space, fired into the far corner.

Substitute Favour Imade, signed on Friday following the departure of Godwin Abadaki to Shaw Lane, prompted Rushden custodian Ben Heath to save smartly his powerful header.

Rushden, who arrived in town on the back of three successive defeats, added gloss to the result in stoppage time.

Shariff completed his hat-trick, rolling into an empty net after full-back George Mannion had passed the ball straight to him.

It propels Diamonds back in to the promotion play-offs places.

Vics | Forth (GK), Clarke, Mannion, Fitzgerald, Lyndon (Lawrence 71), Bennett (Shaw 66), McDonald, Cesaire, Kelleher, Gyimah, Matthews (Imade 60) Subs not used none Goal McDonald 41 (penalty) Booked Clarke, Fitzgerald, Lyndon, Bennett, Kelleher

Rushden | Heath (GK), Ford, Brown, Harris, Dolman, Farrell (Curtis 73), Richards (Orosz 88), Quigley, Bowen (Lorraine 85), Shariff, Brown-Hill Subs not used Finlay, Koriya Goals Bowen 11, Shariff 17, 60, 90

Referee Ben Atkinson

Attendance 131

Match report by Jamie Dewsbury