Corby Town suffered a late capitulation as they were condemned to a fifth successive defeat after Frickley Athletic fought back to claim a 2-1 success at Steel Park.
The Steelmen were looking good to stop the rot with a determined display seeing them finally ending a 439-minute wait for a goal when Steven Leslie put them in front from the penalty spot on the hour.
But they were unable to see it out as Frickley hit them with two goals in the final 10 minutes as they maintained their push for automatic promotion in the Evo-Stik League South.
The latest loss could well prove to be a fatal blow for the Steelmen’s own hopes.
They now sit six points off the play-off places and have still played more games than most of the teams around them.
It is, at best, an uphill task for Steve Kinniburgh’s team if they are to secure an extended season.
And there will be regrets and frustration when they reflect on this defeat.
It proved to be a competitive battle for long periods with plenty of challenges flying in.
As far as chances created go, there weren’t many particularly in the first half. Indeed, it took 33 minutes for the first shot on target to be registered when Leslie’s free-kick was held by visiting goalkeeper Hugo Warhurst.
At the other end, Paul Malone deflected Jacob Hazel’s effort over the bar and Sam Wilson held on to a Gavin Allott header.
But Corby carved out the best chance of the half when Jake Bettles found himself in front of goal with just Warhurst to beat but the visiting stopper produced an excellent save to deny the frontman.
However, it was the Steelmen who broke the deadlock on the hour.
Jordon Crawford was floored by Jameel Ible on the right side of the area. It looked a bit soft and Frickley were adamant the foul happened outside the box.
But a penalty was given and Leslie stepped up to beat Warhurst from the spot.
From there, Corby looked to be in control. Newest recruit Matthew Gardner saw a header held by Warhurst before he was denied a debut goal by an offside flag after he finished off Crawford’s cross to the far post.
That proved to be a key moment as Frickley levelled with 10 minutes to go.
Substitute Ishmael Dawson crossed from the right, Jamie Anton made a good challenge to deny Hazel but he ball fell perfectly for Allott who hammered it into the roof of the net.
If that was a setback, then a real hammer blow arrived with three minutes to go when a lack of concentration in the home defence allowed Allott to knock the ball past Wilson and score into an empty net.
That visibly knocked the stuffing out of the Corby players, some of who fell to ground as the final whistle sounded.
No-one could question the effort put in. It was a hard-working display, let down by some poor defending late in the day.
The Steelmen appear to be stuck in a rut at this moment in time and they need to put a halt to it sooner rather than later if they are to have anything to play for in the final few weeks of the campaign.
Steelmen: Wilson; Anton, Dearle, Malone, Warburton; Kennedy, Robinson (sub Garvie, 43 mins); Crawford, Bettles (sub Trainer, 75 mins), Leslie (sub Cretu, 88 mins); Gardner. Subs not used: Smith.
Frickley: Warhurst; Bloor (sub Dawson, 67 mins), Ible, Burns, Algar; Dugdale, Hugh, Patterson, Blake (sub Burton, 53 mins); Hazel (sub Race, 90 mins), Allott. Subs not used: Stancliffe.
Referee: Martin Chester.
Goals: Leslie pen (60 mins, 1-0), Allott (80 mins, 1-1), Allott (87 mins, 1-2).
Bookings: Algar, Hugh, Allott, Kennedy (all fouls), Patterson (unsporting behaviour),