Kettering Town are heading for the Blue Square Bet Premier trapdoor after Stockport County claimed a 3-1 win at Nene Park.
Kelvin Jack made a surprise return to the Poppies having played for them last season as he replaced Laurie Walker in goal while John van Engel was handed his first start.
The early exchanges were even and Jack held a shot from Danny L Rowe before James Gray dragged a shot wide for the hosts.
Sam Sheridan was narrowly wide with an effort for the visitors but Stockport took the lead in controversial circumstances.
Jack looked to be fouled by Tom Elliott as he tried to catch a cross but he dropped it and Danny Hattersley was on hand to stab home.
The Poppies huffed and puffed as they looked to respond but the only effort they could conjure up was a shot from the returning Marcus Kelly, which was easily held by Lewis King.
And it got a whole lot worse for the hosts on the stroke of half-time when Sean Newton’s excellent curling free-kick found the top corner.
Van Engel shot over early in the second half and Gray sent another effort wide.
But the game remained low on quality and Kettering weren’t helped by an injury to Jack, which prevented him from taking goal-kicks.
However, they did get back into it with 14 minutes left when Max York’s long throw was flicked on by Charlie Wyke and player-manager Ashley Westwood headed home.
But that goal didn’t inspire a fightback and Jack saved well from Danny M Rowe before Stockport wrapped the game up in the final minute when Cameron Darkwah fired home from close-range after Jack had stopped Carl Piergianni’s effort.
Poppies: Jack; Sangare, Ifil (sub York, 69 mins), Westwood, Davis (sub Mills, h-t); Gray, Noubissie, Kelly; Ralph, Wyke, van Engel (sub Ford, 74 mins). Subs not used: Bridges, Joyce.
Stockport: King; Halls, Connor, Piergianni, Newton; Sheridan, Turnbull, Mainwaring; Hattersley (sub Darkwah, h-t), Danny L Rowe (sub Danny M Rowe, 83 mins), Elliott. Subs not used: Ormson, Rose, Nolan.
Referee: Rob Merchant.
Goals: Hattersley (29 mins, 0-1), Newton (45 mins, 0-2), Westwood (76 mins, 1-2), Darkwah (90 mins, 1-3).
Bookings: Hattersley (diving), Kelly, Westwood (both fouls).