Corby Town were sunk by a late Blair Sturrock goal as they slipped to a second successive 2-1 defeat in the Blue Square Bet North at Bishop’s Stortford.
The game looked to be heading for a draw after Ryan Semple had levelled for the Steelmen in the first half but Sturrock popped up with an 89th-minute winner for the hosts.
Steelmen boss Chris Plummer chose to leave top scorer Josh Moreman on the bench as he returned from a two-match ban while Leon McKenzie was attending a book signing at Crystal Palace following the release of his autobiography.
Corby had the first opening when Liam Hughes turned and hit a shot on the volley but Warren Clarke made a comfortable save.
And the hosts responded with Ricky Sappleton’s strong run ending in with Paul Walker having to save Michael Thalassitis’ snap-shot.
But it was the home side who grabbed the opening goal on 12 minutes and it came out of nowhere as Reece Prestedge took aim from 25 yards and his good strike found the bottom corner.
The Steelmen struggled to respond despite having plenty of possession and Phil Anderson almost doubled the hosts’ lead when his flicked header flew just wide.
Avelino Vieira sent a long-range effort just off target before his cross was almost sliced into his own net by Anderson.
But Stortford really should have made it 2-0 just before the half-hour mark. Sappleton’s fierce shot was parried by Walker into the path of Thalassitis but he could only knock the ball wide from a couple of yards with the goal at his mercy.
And the hosts paid a heavy price for that miss as Corby found an equaliser on 35 minutes. And it was all about Jason Crowe as his pin-point cross from the left was met by Ryan Semple who gave Carter no chance with a thumping header.
Corby started the second half brightly with Sam Ives going close to giving them the lead when he volleyed over after another good cross from Crowe.
At the other end, Matt Johnson fired wildly wide of the target before the Steelmen were forced into a change when Stefan Galinski went down with an injury without anyone around him. He had to be replaced by Paul Malone.
Walker saved well from Johnson and Moreman, on as a substitute, tested Carter at the other end after cutting in from the left.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between for both sides in a scrappy second period.
But one did fall to substitute Sturrock with a minute to as he took the ball down and fired a low shot past Walker to win it for the home side.
Bishop’s Stortford: Carter; Sinclair-Furlonge, Francis, Anderson; Herd; Johnson, Prestedge, Abdullahi, Webb (sub Cawley, 66 mins); Sappleton (sub Sturrock, 66 mins), Thalassitis (sub Baker, 75 mins). Subs not used: Spence, Milton.
Steelmen: Walker; Horne, Piergianni, Galinski (sub Malone, 53 mins), Crowe; McGowan, Wedderburn; Semple, Ives (sub Manga, 75 mins), Vieira (sub Moreman, 64 mins); Hughes. Subs not used: Webb, Richardson.
Referee: Wayne Porter.
Goals: Prestedge (12 mins, 1-0), Semple (35 mins, 1-1), Sturrock (89 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Moreman (foul).