AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ promotion hopes in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central suffered another major blow after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Arlesey Town.
Andy Peaks’ side held a half-time lead after Elliot Sandy put them in front while Matt Finlay saved a penalty.
But Arlesey turned things round after the break and the loss, coupled with Chalfont St Peter’s 1-0 win over Potters Bar Town, now means Diamonds hold the final play-off place by just goal difference with four games to play.
Finlay was called into action early on when he made a fine save before Diamonds went close to making the breakthrough when Sandy saw his header come back off the post after a good run and cross from Tom Lorraine.
Claudiu Hoban had a couple of efforts cleared off the line but Diamonds did break the deadlock on 18 minutes.
Andy Hall intercepted the ball and played it through to Sandy who turned his man and fired home from the edge of the box.
Arlesey were given a golden opportunity to draw level when they were awarded a penalty but Finlay produced an excellent save to keep his side in front.
Diamonds went close again before the break when Jack Ashton headed over from a Hall cross and James Jepson had an effort blocked by Liam Dolman who couldn’t get out of the way early in the second period.
However, Arlesey drew level four minutes after the restart when they were awarded their second penalty of the night and this time Jevani Brown stepped up to score into the bottom corner.
Lorraine glanced a header wide from another Hall delivery but it was Arlesey who took the lead on 66 minutes when substitute Jon Stevenson lost possession and the hosts broke forward with Christian Tavernier playing in Tony Williams who slotted past Finlay.
Hall saw a free-kick well saved by home goalkeeper Nick Thompson while Dolman had a chance blocked from the resulting corner.
Thompson denied Sandy after he got his head to a long throw from Connor Kennedy but Diamonds were unable to find an equaliser.
They are back in action with back-to-back home matches with Hanwell Town the visitors on Saturday with a clash against Barton Rovers to follow a week tonight.
Don’t miss more Diamonds news in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph