Any hopes Stamford Lions had of mustering a late Peterborough League Premier Division title challenge were ended when they were beaten 1-0 by fellow contenders Moulton Harrox on Saturday.
Going into the game, both sides were trailing league leaders Netherton and knew a win was a must to keep alive any hope in case the Peterborough side slipped up.
Lions started the brighter of the two sides as Tom Edwards sent an early shot over the bar before Tom Lees saw an effort roll wide.
At the other end goalkeeper John Swales was quick off his line to nullify a counter-attack as the Stamford side continued to press desperate for an opening goal.
Edwards saw a free kick well held and Jake Walton sent a shot over the bar from the edge of the area.
With 30 minutes played, Lions midfielder Neil Speck went into a 50-50 tackle that resulted in him twisting his knee and his game was cut short as he was forced to withdraw injured.
The reshuffle in midfield seemed to unsettle the home side as Moulton started to find more room and looked dangerous in attack.
The deadlock was broken 10 minutes before half-time by the visitors as a corner was swung in and flicked on into the area and it fell to Bobby Patterson who stabbed the ball past Swales from close range.
Lions responded and pounced onto the attack with Tom Cardall cutting in from the right but his cross just evaded the on-rushing Lees.
On the stroke of half-time Edwards saw a goalbound header clawed away by an excellent save.
The second half saw Stamford continue to probe but found Moulton a very tough side to open up.
Cardall was denied by a brave save before he later screwed a shot just wide after catching the keeper out of his area.
Steven Boon got his head to a deep free kick but could only find the side netting while Moulton were dangerous on the counter and nearly doubled the lead but were denied by two back-to-back outstanding saves from Swales and a goalline clearance from Dan Aust after a hectic goalmouth scramble.
As the half wore on Moulton remained well organised and the Lions became more and more frustrated with the inability to create any clear chances.#
Time and again crosses and long balls were cut out and cleared as Moulton saw off the threat to claim a 1-0 win.
Lions manager James Sheehan said: “It was bitterly disappointing to lose. Moulton, as always, are a hard side to beat.
“The first goal is crucial in these match ups and unfortunately we just couldn’t make our early pressure count.
“I couldn’t of asked a lot more from the lads to be honest. We just didn’t get that goal, became frustrated and suffered as a result but it was certainly not from a lack of effort.
“The injury to Neil (Speck) was a blow as he was having an influential game, but this is how a game can go.
“Moulton have that added experience and once they took the lead they were determined to maintain it.”