Deeping Rangers lost ground on the teams chasing second spot with a 3-1 defeat at home to a strong St Ives side on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier in the season Rangers had earned a 1-1 draw at St Ives but they were soon under pressure from a side featuring three former Deeping stars on Saturday.
Dominic Lawless was a threat throughout and as early as the fifth minute could have put the visitors ahead, but his shot from the edge of the area cleared James Doughty’s crossbar.
The pressure on Rangers’ goal during the opening half hour seemed relentless and St Ives took the lead after 23 minutes when Doughty spilled what a routine catch from a cross into his net.
Deeping were limited to rare breaks with Alex Beck providing the only regular outlet.
The goal sparked Rangers into life and they began to create a few openings of their own. There were claims for a home penalty when the ball looked to have been handled, but play was waved on.
But St Ives’ newest recruit, Lawless doubled the away side’s lead with a fine individual effort, beating two defenders before rifling his shot past the outstretched Doughty.
Right on half time Beck could should, have halved the deficit but lifted his shot high and wide from an acute angle.
Deeping boss Tuncay Korkmaz rang the changes in the second half and the hosts Deeping pulled a goal back on 70 minutes when David Burtno -Jones turned Scott Ginty’s free kick into the net.
St Ives settled matters with a third goal, headed home by Karl Gibbs with six minutes remaining.
Rangers boss Tuncay Korkmaz said: “They deserved to win. We had to be at our strongest but had a few missing.
“They scored their third when we had them under a bit of pressure – that really sealed it.”
Striker Matt Heron has one match of his suspension remaining and Korkmaz will soon have Phil Stebbing available for selection.
“From where we are and with all the changes fourth, fifth or sixth would be a decent finish,” added the Deeping boss. Quorn are now under a bit of pressure but Newport Pagnell, Cogenhoe and Huntingdon are doing well. It’s almost like a mini-league.”
Rangers: James Doughty, Lawrence Lambley, Nick Jackson, Spenceer Tinkler, Steve Julian, Ciaran Holt (Dan Evans), Johnny Hands (Liam Bull), David Burton-Jones, Alex Beck, Simon Ashton, Lewis Stone (Scott Ginty).