Kettering Town’s miserable run of form on the pitch continued as they were beaten 3-1 by Arlesey Town in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division at Steel Park.
With results going against them on Saturday, Thomas Baillie’s side needed a win to keep any faint hopes of avoiding the drop alive.
But the Poppies paid the price for a poor first-half display and the loss means they are now a massive 19 points behind Bedworth United, who now sit just above the relegation zone, with just 15 games remaining.
Boss Baillie handed a debut to new signing Jordan Ivey-Ward but the Poppies found themselves a goal down inside four minutes against an Arlesey side, which included former Kettering men Drew Roberts and Nathan Abbey while two more in Nick Bussey and player-manager Zema Abbey were named on the bench.
Chris Marsh put the visitors in front with a half-volley from the edge of the area that found its way in with the aid of the post.
Ben Ford was forced to chest a header off the line soon after and it was 2-0 when Henry Eze was penalised for a push on Roberts, who picked himself up to send Yannick Nlate the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
Nlate produced a good block to deny Marsh while Kettering briefly threatened when Nathan Hicks’ cross flashed across the face of goal.
But it was 3-0 before the break when Arlesey cut the home defence open with far too much ease and Roberts made no mistake when one-on-one with Nlate.
The Poppies did improve after the break with Ivey-Ward forcing Nathan Abbey into his first real save after good work from Jean-Sylvain Dossou and Lewis Wilson.
Hicks looped a header over the crossbar and they pulled a goal back when Henry Eze headed home when the ball was sent back into the area shortly after Jamie Griffiths had an effort cleared off the line.
Wilson saw a shot flash just wide as Kettering looked for a crucial second but, despite plenty of pressing and Ford sending a 30-yard effort just over, it never came.
It was a much better second-half display but the damage had already been done.
The Poppies will again try to stop the poor run, which now stands at seven successive defeats, when they play Weymouth at Steel Park on Wednesday night.
Poppies line-up: Nlate, Dossou, Fox, Logan, Eze, Crowie, Ivey-Ward, Hicks, Griffiths, Wilson, Ford. Subs: King, Glen, Bradshaw, Noubissie, Johnston.
Goals: Marsh (4 mins, 0-1), Roberts pen (37 mins, 0-2), Roberts (45 mins, 0-3), Eze (65 mins, 1-3).