Corby Town slipped to second successive defeat as a second-half fightback eventually proved fruitless as Boston United claimed a 3-2 win at Steel Park.
Having been 2-0 down soon after half-time, the Steelmen battled back to draw level thanks to Spencer Weir-Daley and a Greg Mills penalty.
Indeed, once they had equalised, Corby looked the more likely to go on and win it.
Instead, the tough run of form continued as a mistake from Paul Walker allowed Scott Garner to fire home the Pilgrims’ winner two minutes from full-time.
On a rain-swept evening, Corby were poor for the first 45 minutes as they struggled to keep possession and created no real chances. And it was that opening half that proved so costly.
The Steelmen added Leicester City youngsters Cedric Kipre and Aaron Hassell to their squad ahead of the game after the pair signed on initial one-month youth loan deals.
Kipre was handed a start at the heart of the defence with Aaron Brown not included in the squad while Hassell also wasn’t in the 16.
Boston, meanwhile, included former Steelmen Carl Piergianni and Mark Jones in their starting line-up while another, Jamie McGhee, was on the bench for the Pilgrims.
The Steelmen started brightly enough and Greg Mills, as he did on a few occasions, outpaced Jordan Richards down the left but his cutback towards Spencer Weir-Daley was cleared.
But it was the Pilgrims who struck first on 12 minutes. Kalern Thomas gave away a needless free-kick just outside the left side of the area.
And Dayle Southwell stepped up to send an excellent low shot across Paul Walker and it found its way in with the aid of the far post.
Corby struggled to muster up a response with possession conceded far too easily while Piergianni and his fellow Boston defenders had few problems in snuffing out the long balls that came at them.
Jones shot wide for the visitors after a neat turn while Piergianni hacked away Ashley Sammons’ free-kick as it headed towards goal.
But Boston finished the half the better and Southwell saw a shot deflected over after a training ground corner routine and the frontman also fired well wide after breaking away from a static home defence just before the break.
Things could only get better for Corby and they should have been level early in the second period when the unmarked Weir-Daley headed Mills’ cross over.
And that miss proved costly as, barely 60 seconds later, Southwell had his second as he took aim with a terrific strike that beat Walker all ends up and found the top corner.
Corby could have been forgiven for going into their shell after that but, instead, they replied two minutes later as Weir-Daley got a header right as he glanced home a corner at the near post.
With the game opening up, the visitors almost had a response of their own as Walker got down well to save from Aaron Greene after he burst through the middle.
But Corby continued to be much more of a threat and they levelled things up on 66 minutes.
Kabongo Tshimanga raced on to a ball forward, Boston goalkeeper Henrich Ravas charged from his goal and hauled the striker down. Fortunately for the Pilgrims, Tshimanga was going away from goal so no card was needed.
But Mills punished them from the penalty spot as he sent Ravas the wrong way to equalise.
With Corby’s tails up, Sammons sent a fierce 25-yard strike just wide soon after but things settled as chances for either side became few and far between.
Southwell so nearly lobbed Walker to complete his hat-trick but just as the game seemed to be petering out, the Pilgrims found the winner.
Substitute Nicky Walker tried his luck from 20 yards and Walker inexplicably spilled it in front of goal and Scott Garner was there to fire home the rebound.
The cruel reality of the step up to the Vanarama National League North showed itself to the Steelmen once again.
They are now without a win in five and need to learn quickly that there aren’t second chances at this level...
Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Courtney, Kipre, Carruthers; Taylor, Milnes; Tshimanga (sub Revan, 74 mins), Sammons, Mills; Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Kennedy, Draper, Ogilvie, Donkin.
Boston: Ravas; Richards, Mills, Piergianni, Marrs; Rollins (sub Dowie, 76 mins), Garner, Dixon, Greene (sub Walker, 68 mins); Southwell, Jones (sub Sarpong, 52 mins). Subs not used: McGhee, Deacey.
Referee: Amy Fearn.
Goals: Southwell (12 mins, 0-1), Southwell (50 mins, 0-2), Weir-Daley (52 mins, 1-2), Mills pen (66 mins, 2-2), Garner (88 mins, 2-3).
Bookings: Dixon, Thomas (both fouls).