Two second-half goals saw Garstang beaten 2-1 when they travelled to Chadderton on Saturday.
Ric Coar and Cameron Ross were absent for the Riversiders, who were playing their first league game under new boss Richard Cookney.
On a firm, bumpy, playing surface, the first half was a very even affair although the home side fashioned more clear-cut chances.
Chadderton missed a golden chance within the first two minutes when a corner fell to the unmarked Jack Turnbull but he spooned his shot over the bar from just five yards.
There was another let-off when Liam Chambers got behind the Garstang defensive line and was thwarted by a brilliant Will Kitchen save.
As the half progressed Garstang got used to their new shape and never looked in real trouble.
They more than matched the home side and all that was missing was a spark of creativity in the final third of the pitch.
Garstang’s best move of the half produced the game’s first goal three minutes before half-time.
Andrew Murphy got possession from a Chadderton corner and hit a great ball down the right flank to Jonny Hothersall, who cut inside at pace and laid a clever ball between the home side’s centre-halves into the path of Jake Salisbury.
He finished superbly from just inside the box to give the Riversiders the lead at half-time.
The early skirmishes of the second half saw Garstang looking more dangerous and Alex Hay was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside.
The injured Jack Swindlehurst was replaced by Jerome Jolly and the game entered a spell where Garstang started to ride their luck.
The home side saw an effort come off the upright and this was soon followed by a goal which was disallowed for offside.
The equaliser soon came when Jordan Butterworth turned home a cross from close range in the 67th minute.
Crosses and shots started to rain in as Garstang were pushed deeper into their own half and Alan Coar was left somewhat isolated.
Kitchen produced multiple saves and, in a mad scramble, made a spectacular double save before Hay got in the way of the third effort.
The home side secured their win on 73 minutes as a penalty was awarded for a handball and Turnbull made no mistake.
Garstang pressed for the equaliser with Cookney making further changes in pursuit of the equaliser but the Riversiders never tested the home keeper with any shots on goal.
Garstang’s only real chance of the half fell to Alan Coar late on but he was unable to connect with a cross from the left from close range.