Corby Town and Hednesford Town are both facing the drop from the Vanarama National League North after they shared a goalless draw at Steel Park.
The first part of an Easter weekend double-header never really clicked into gear as defences remained on top.
For the Steelmen, and not for the first time this season, it was a case of what might have been as they had the golden opportunity to pick up the most precious of wins to kickstart what would be a great escape.
Greg Mills, normally so reliable from the penalty spot, missed the target with a first-half spot-kick with what proved to be the best chance for either side on a tough afternoon in extremely tricky conditions.
The gasp from the home faithful as Mills put his shot from 12 yards wide, summed up the general mood.
And, in the end, with results further up the table not helping, a draw did little to boost either clubs’ chances of avoiding relegation even though it was a fair result.
As expected, Tommy Wright started himself for Corby while Taylor McKenzie made his debut after joining on loan from Notts County.
But Wright lasted just 20 minutes as he pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Ben O’Hanlon who rejoined the club in the week.
The first half was poor for the most part, although Hednesford created the better openings.
Stephane Ngamvoulou’s goalbound shot was deflected away by Edi Appleton while Sam Donkin recovered from a horrible mis-kick to deny the visiting frontman as he tried to take advantage.
But it was Corby who should have taken the lead as the game burst into life late in the half.
Nathan Hicks seized on a mistake and raced towards goal, he squared for Mills but his shot was cleared off the line by Shelton Payne.
Almost immediately, Ben Milnes was brought down in the area by Kennedy Digie and Mills stepped up but blasted his penalty wide of the target with goalkeeper Dan Crane going the other way.
O’Hanlon had a shot blocked while Sam Donkin palmed away the danger at the other end after a good, low cross from Adam Thomas.
Hednesford’s Ben Bailey sent an early effort just over the bar in the second period.
Corby struggled to muster up anything at the other end and Wright reacted by throwing on an attacker in the form of Michael Ogilvie in place of defender Edi Appleton.
But it was Donkin who was the busier goalkeeper as he was forced to palm away a Shelton Payne shot and he then made an even better save to deny Ngamvoulou from close-range after good work from substitute Paul Ennis while Danny Glover headed the resulting corner over from a decent position.
Ogilvie had an effort deflected off target at the other end but neither side could find that crucial breakthrough.
With the overall outcome doing little for either teams’ hopes, the final whistle was greeted with near silence - a sign that an inevitable fate had been accepted by the majority of supporters.
The games are still there for the Steelmen but clearly, wins must arrive sooner rather than later, starting with the daunting trip to leaders Solihull Moors tomorrow if that inevitable fate is to be avoided.
Steelmen: Donkin; Myles, McKenzie, Appleton (sub Ogilvie, 61 mins), Thomas; Courtney; Taylor, Hicks, Milnes, Mills; Wright (sub O’Hanlon, 20 mins, sub Kromah, 80 mins). Subs not used: Draper, Marshall.
Hednesford: Crane; Digie, Francis, Bailey, Trainer; A Thomas, Williams, Royle, Payne (sub Ennis, 69 mins); Ngamvoulou (sub Cham, 80 mins); Peers (sub Glover, 61 mins). Subs not used: Ransome, Truelove.
Referee: Simon Barrow.
Booking: Bailey (foul).