Scarborough Athletic slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Evo-Stik play-off rivals Sutton Coldfield Town on a damp Saturday afternoon in the West Midlands.
Boro huffed and puffed in a scrappy battle, but they couldn’t retrieve the situation after falling two goals behind.
Their plight also wasn’t helped by referee Simon Gudger, who made a number of baffling decisions throughout the afternoon.
Rudy Funk brought Gary Bradshaw back into the fold for his first league game in some time, though another ex-North Ferriby man in Paul Foot was unavailable.
New recruit Jack Barlow took his place on the bench.
Boro started the game well, with Bradshaw looking lively up front alongside Jimmy Beadle.
It was Bradshaw who created the first chance, scampering through two tackles before firing well over.
The striker was then sent clear of the Sutton defence but was crudely taken down on the edge of the box by keeper Lewis Gwilliams.
Instead of showing a richly deserved red card, referee Simon Gudger was lenient and only offered a yellow.
Boro keeper Jason White was then thrust into the action, producing a string of good saves to keep his side on par.
He denied both Joel Kettle and Reece Leek in quick succession and then managed a great one-handed stop to keep out Daryl Taylor’s effort, Andy Milne hacking Leek’s rebound off the line.
Beadle produced one of his trademark crunching tackles in the seconds that followed, with the referee opting to book the Boro man.
Then Beadle went up for a regulation header with Sutton’s Joe Ling and bafflingly he was awarded another card for his efforts and was sent to the dressing room.
The referee correctly levelled it up within minutes, Stuart McNaught led with his elbow and sent Chris Bolder crashing to the floor. McNaught was dismissed and Bolder was replaced by Bryan Hughes.
That was the final action of a controversial yet highlight-free first half that ended just as the rain started.
Boro began the new period in confident fashion and almost took the lead when Ryan Williams cut in from the left, his shot was was saved.
Disaster soon struck though when Boro failed to deal with a corner from the right and Joel Kettle hooked home.
Boss Funk opted to change things around after this, Ryan Blott and new boy Barlow coming on, Tom Davie and Williams being withdrawn.
Boro soon found themselves a second goal behind though as more poor defending from a set-piece freed Gary Hay up to poke home.
The visitors did show some fighting spirit in the closing stages though, and Bryan Hughes hauled them back into the game when his shot from the edge of the box was deflected home.
Boro continued to control the game from here. Their approach play was good, but the final touch wasn’t.