Scarborough Athletic slipped to their fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions on Saturday when leaders Lancaster City were just too strong at the Giant Axe.
Two first-half goals made sure of the points for the hosting Dolly Blues, leaving Boro's play-off dream looking even more unlikely.
With 10 games remaining this season, Boro now need to dig deep and get the points on the board or a mid-table finish will be on the cards.
Boss Steve Kittrick tried to shake things up by introducing Joe Green in between the sticks and the experienced Dominic Roma at centre-back.
In the opening minutes it was referee Mr Speedie who took centre stage though as he turned down two very viable penalty claims.
Boro's was probably the most realistic, as striker Jacob Hazel was clearly pushed over in the box, but the ref just gave a goal-kick.
Lancaster then had atheir shout seconds later when Jacob Gregory felt the weight of a challenge in the Boro penalty area, but again Mr Speedie was not moved.
Former Sheffield United man Roma saw his debut curtailed after just 12 minutes, picking up a hip injury and being replaced by Matthew Lucid.
This reshape took a moment too long to bed in and that allowed Lancaster the chance to nip in and take the lead.
The deadly Jordan Connerton pounced when a shot had cannoned off the Boro bar and he rolled neatly past Green with the Boro defence all at sea.
Boro had an unbelievable chance to level up soon after, but things didn't go to plan.
Home keeper Mike Hale horribly shanked a clearance straight into the path of Hazel, but, with time on his hands, the attacker sliced well wide of an open goal.
Lucid then saw an effort saved by Hale, before, on the counter, Green had to be at his best to keep out a low drive from Ryan Winder.
Boro began to take control a touch more before the break, the highlight of this period was a vicious shot from Adam Bolder, who grazed the top of the City bar.
But it was the hosts who extended the lead right on half-time through more top poaching from Connerton.
Ricky Mercer won a far-post header and Connerton was on hand to poke home his second of the day.
Boro started the second half in shaky fashion. Green spilled a cross, but the ball was cleared by the defence, then Lucid had to clear off his own line with Lancaster men in waiting.
Winder should have made it three when he managed to smash his shot against the post rather than into Boro's open goal.
Craig Carney had a goal ruled out for offside and then Green made a superb save to keep out Gregory's effort.
Boro continued to rock under the Lancaster pressure, with Green pushing out Adam Sumner's free-kick, then sub Tom Kilifin drilled the ball wide on two occasions when very well placed.
The visitors' first opening of the second half came with four minutes left on the clock, Matty Bloor beating two man and then firing a weak effort straight at the keeper.
Matty Turnbull was so unlucky not to trim the lead soon after as Boro finally upped the tempo, but his close-range shot hit the shoulder of a beaten Hale and the ball clattered off the bar.
Minutes later the referee then blew up on the game and possibly Boro's play-off hopes.