Gosport Borough saw their play-off ambitions dented by a 2-0 defeat at Bishop’s Stortford.
Two goals in six minutes early in the second half sealed Borough’s fate and sent them tumbling out of the National League South play-off places.
It would have been a lot worse for below-par Borough – but for another superb performance by goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore.
Named captain in the absence of Brett Poate, Ashmore led by example – pulling off a series of outstanding saves to keep his side in contention.
Mick Catlin admitted his team were second best on the day.
Borough’s assistant manager said: ‘Hopefully this will turn out to be just one bad day at the office.
‘In this league, if you don’t get it right this is always likely to happen.
‘To be fair, our away form has been good this season and it hasn’t happened many times.
‘Nathan made some terrific saves to keep us in it in the first half. We felt at the break we couldn’t play any worse than we had in the opening 45 minutes.
‘Unfortunately, that didn’t prove to be the case.
‘By the time Bishop’s Stortford had scored their two goals it was one-way traffic.’
Borough were forced to reshuffle midway through the first half when they lost Rory Williams with a thigh strain.
The visitors took time to come to terms with the change and continued to struggle on a difficult surface.
Borough’s only chance of note before the interval came when the home goalkeeper was forced to parry an effort from George Barker.
Justin Bennett fired over the bar at the start of the second half before Stortford hit Borough with two quick-fire goals.
‘We lost possession high up the pitch and found ourselves outnumbered for their first goal,’ added Catlin.
‘For their second goal, we didn’t react quickly enough to a throw in the final third which was disappointing.
‘Having Brett Poate out injured proved a massive loss for us.’
After that, arguably the busiest Borough player on the pitch was Ashmore, who continued to pull off save after save.
Gosport continued to try to chase the game but never really created enough in the final third.
‘It was a long quiet coach journey on the way back,’ said assistant boss Catlin.
‘The players were left to reflect on a poor performance which left them empty-handed.
‘It is important that we regroup and bounce back from this.
‘We will want to get back to winning ways next weekend.’
Borough host play-off chasing Dartford next Saturday.
Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Cuthbertson (Lee, 64min), Williams (Wheeler, 20min), Carter, Robinson, Woodford, Barker, Harding, Wooden, Bennett, Wilde (Brice, 76min)