Hednesford Town’s hopes of finishing in the top five suffered a blow for the second time in a week following this 3-1 home defeat against North Ferriby United.
Rob Smith’s side went into the game looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 2-1 loss against Boston United as they also aimed for their first ever league double over long-time foes Ferriby.
Although the visitors created the first two openings of the game, both of which were blocked, it was Town who went in front after eight minutes when Ben Bailey headed home from a right-wing corner.
The visitors’ first effort on target came in the 16th minute when defender Josh Wilde’s ambitious shot was on target but comfortably dealt with by goalkeeper Dan Crane.
At the other end only a timely interception stopped striker Marvin Robinson getting on the end of a dangerous cross from Adam Thomas after 21 minutes as the Pitmen pressed for a second.
That would prove critical, as two minutes later Ferriby were level when the lively Danny Clarke worked himself into a shooting position after riding two challenges before slotting home.
It went from bad to worse in the 28th minute for Town when they were reduced to ten men as captain Darren Campion was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Clarke.
The visitors almost went ahead three minutes after this when Clarke saw his effort pushed onto the crossbar before Tom Denton, with the attentions of James Hurst, headed the rebound against the post.
Despite this effort Town went into the break looking comfortable against a side with the extra man.
Four minutes into the second period Crane was forced into a smart low save from Ryan Kendall as the visitors tried to make the man advantage count.
This they did in the 66th minute after they were awarded a penalty when Tom Thorley brought down Adam Bolder who, after dusting himself down, slotted home from 12 yards out to make it 2-1.
Within a minute Hednesford almost dragged themselves level only for Adam Thomas to be denied by goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge.
They should really have done so though in the 70th minute as substitute Steve Diggin worked himself into a shooting position only for Hedge to deny him. The striker also flashed an effort wide just three minutes later as his luck continued to be out.
The visitors weathered the storm though and after Bolder struck the crossbar they extended their lead from the resulting corner with 12 minutes remaining.
The ball into the box was headed on by Denton and Ferriby substitute Nathan Jarman volleyed home from 12 yards to extend the lead further for his side.
Although there was the danger of being caught on the counter-attack Hednesford continued to try and find a way back into the game with Jamey Osborne seeing an effort saved and Diggin poking wide at the near post.
It wasn’t to be though and the game against Tamworth next weekend now takes on even more importance than ever as Town look to keep their place in the top five.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion, Bailey, Westwood, Thorley (Diggin 68), Osborne, Thomas, Robinson (Kerry 36), Rushton (Strain 81), Walker
Sub not used: Todd
North Ferriby United: Hedge, Topliss, Wilde (Bruce 50), D’Laryea, Wilson (Anderson 50), Hone, Clarke, Bolder, Denton, Kendall, Bateson (Jarman 69)
Subs not used: Gray, Nicholson
Star Man: Ben Bailey
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars