Scarborough Athletic’s play-off ambitions were left hanging in the balance following Saturday’s tepid 2-1 home defeat against fierce rivals Bamber Bridge.
In front of a crowd of over 500, Boro just failed to get out of first gear in a game that could have planted them firmly on the road to success.
Billed as a huge six-pointer in the build-up, Boro left the pitch at the end of 90 minutes with exactly what they deserved - nothing.
Heading into the game after a run of positive results, Athletic had a great opportunity to build on their form and force themselves firmly into the top few, It soon became clear though that the occasion and the busy run of fixtures had become too much for them.
It was Bamber Bridge who flew out of the traps and the hosts found themselves chasing mid-afternoon shadows.
Tricky winger Alistair Waddecar started what would be a busy afternoon for Boro keeper Joe Cracknell, when he forced an excellent save out of the home stopper.
Boro continued to creak under the weight of pressure, and their resolved finally broke with just eight minutes on the clock.
Kieron Pickup was allowed too much time on the edge of the box and he picked out the bottom corner. This sparked an inquest among the Boro defenders to discover just whose man he was.
Bridge continued to force the issue, but fortunately for Boro, they found Cracknell in impressive form.
Boro had offered little or nothing in attack until this point, though when they did create an opportunity on 16 minutes, it could and probably should have levelled the scores.
Matty Plummer danced his way through three challenges, but his composure deserted him when it came to the shot, and Lee Dovey made a comfortable save.
Then, as play swung to the other end, Boro were lucky to survive another huge scare.
Cracknell made a superb stop to keep out Curtis Thompson’s drive, then seconds later Pete Davidson headed Daniel Mahoney’s effort off the line.
Things finally began to improve for Athletic as the half went on, with the furious stares of joint-bosses Paul Foot and Bryan Hughes urging them to press on.
Alex Metcalfe lobbed just over with Dovey beaten, and then Tom Corner flicked two headers just off target, the first being the closest as it scraped the top of the bar.
Boro needed to make a good start to the second half, but sadly that didn’t materialise.
Instead, Bamber Bridge grabbed a second goal that would ultimately prove vital.
Dean Lisles horribly miscued a clearance straight into the path of Darren Green, who finished brilliantly past Cracknell.
Boro threw on top-scorer Gary Bradshaw in place of defender Danny Wilkinson, but that took more balance away from an already collapsing Boro.
Cracknell was forced to save from Thompson and then Green missed an absolute sitter from four yards under pressure from Ben Middleton.
Things were sured up with Steve Ridley and Kieran McCaffrey coming into the fray, a move that triggered a late Boro charge.
Corner glanced another header just over the bar and then Jimmy Beadle crashed a free-kick from 35 yards into the shed behind the goal.
Boro finally broke their duck in the 94th minute, but it was too little too late.
Ryan Blott rose well in the box and powered a header past Dovey, kicking off a frantic few minutes.
But Boro failed to threaten again before referee Mr Kirk brought the proceedings to a frustrating end.