Ten-man Grimsby Town fell to a home defeat despite dominating throughout against Maidenhead United at Blundell Park.
A nightmare two minutes midway through the first half did the damage, as Luke Waterfall scored an own-goal before being sent off as he conceded the penalty which led to Sam Barratt putting the visitors 2-0 up.
Town had been on top before finding themselves two goals down in what seemed like a flash and they continued to pour forward in search of a way back into the game but instead, found themselves further behind when substitute Ryan Upward grabbed a third for Maidenhead.
Tristan Abrahams pulled one back from the game’s second penalty but the Mariners were unable to get a second goal which would have set up a grandstand finish and instead, still need a point from their final two games of the season to guarantee a play-off spot.
Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the draw at Barnet last week. Michee Efete was ruled out after picking up an injury in the game at The Hive and his place was taken by Jordan Cropper, while Danny Amos, Ben Fox and Abrahams also came into the team as Adam Crookes, Erico Sousa and Joey Jones missed out.
There was also a welcome return to the matchday squad for John McAtee as he was deemed fit enough for a place on the bench after two games out injured.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Cropper, Andy Smith, Waterfall and Amos forming the defence. Harry Clifton, Fox, Gavan Holohan and Sean Scannell were the midfielders, while Abrahams linked up with Ryan Taylor in a front two.
McAtee was joined on the list of substitutes by Shaun Pearson, Sousa, Jordan Maguire-Drew and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Maidenhead travelled north from Berkshire looking to continue their own good run of form which had seen Alan Devonshire’s men win two and draw the remaining four of their last six games.
The Magpies would look to the likes of Emile Acquah and Sam Barratt to get the goals that would secure another positive result.
An early cross from Scannell on the right was cleared, before Scannell became the first to test visiting keeper Dan Gyollai with a low drive on four minutes. Holohan missed the target from the rebound.
Smith had to make a clearance after a long throw from Sam Barratt was headed on inside the Town penalty area, before a foul on Holohan brought a free kick inside the Maidenhead half. Amos’ ball to the far post was headed clear.
Holohan let fly from distance soon afterwards but saw his effort fly over the bar, then a stoppage came after Scannell went down with an injury.
A shot from distance by Abrahams took a deflection and looped onto the bar and over for the game’s first corner on 12 minutes.
Scannell initially looked to have been passed fit to continue but before the corner was taken, he was forced off, to be replaced by Maguire-Drew. It was an unfortunate early end to the game for Scannell, who had started it well.
The corner was headed away for another one, which was eventually scrambled clear by the away side.
But the home pressure continued with a free kick for a high foot, although Maguire-Drew’s delivery from it was headed clear.
Maguire-Drew forced a save from Gyollai after showing persistence to be first to a long throw down the line from Cropper, before a cross from Maguire-Drew was cleared after Taylor had headed the ball on.
A low shot from Abrahams on 21 minutes was comfortably stopped by the keeper after the striker had been picked out by Clifton following a run through the middle.
The visitors won their first corner two minutes later after a run into the box by Barratt but the ball from the flag caused no problems.
The Mariners had been on top over the first quarter of the game but they fell behind on 25 minutes when a cross from Remy Clerima on the right was diverted past Crocombe by Waterfall for an OWN-GOAL.
And seconds later, things went from bad to worse for the hosts when they were reduced to 10 men as Waterfall was shown the red card for bundling Acquah over as he made his way into the box. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and BARRATT stepped up to make it 2-0.
Pearson was sent on in place of the unfortunate Cropper before the restart as the Mariners used their second substitution and went to three at the back.
A foul on Clifton brought a free kick midway inside the away half on 32 minutes an Maguire-Drew’s ball from it was helped on by Pearson but Abrahams could only win a corner, which was headed clear.
Another free kick came soon afterwards when Maguire-Drew was brought down on the left and it almost led to a second own-goal as Clerima’s header dropped just wide for a corner. Maguire-Drew’s ball from the flag was eventually claimed by Gyollai.
Clifton headed just wide from an Abrahams cross as Town looked to reduce their deficit before half-time.
Another corner came when a Maguire-Drew cross from the right was blocked but the flag-kick was headed clear.
Fox linked up well with Taylor on a run through the middle but was crowded out when he reached the edge of the box.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the first half and Fox sent a low shot from distance through to Gyollai as Town kept attacking.
But they were unable to find a way through before the referee’s whistle blew and as a result, were left with a mountain to climb in the second half.
No further changes were made before the restart and an early Maguire-Drew cross from the right looped harmlessly over the bar.
Captain Alan Massey was booked for bringing Clifton down on the edge of the Maidenhead box but Maguire-Drew’s free kick hit the visitors’ wall.
Abrahams then saw his curling strike pushed clear by Gyollai after good play by Holohan to find the striker in space on the edge of the penalty area.
A driving run into the box by Fox ended when his cross was blocked but a corner came on the left soon afterwards, although it was cleared.
The home pressure continued and another corner came on 53 minutes, which led to Pearson heading wide.
Another corner followed two minutes later but the ball was cleared after Pearson had headed Maguire-Drew’s delivery towards goal.
Maidenhead attacks had been few and far between since the interval but Clifton had to make a superb, last-ditch challenge to deny Acquah a tap-in after the ball was played along the six-yard line on 57 minutes.
Midfielder Shaun Donnellan was booked after pushing Pearson over in the aftermath of a free kick being given for a foul.
Barratt followed him into the referee’s notebook seconds later after a poor challenge on Holohan near the right touchline. Maguire-Drew’s free kick was headed clear.
Town won a corner on the left soon afterwards but again, it was headed clear as Maidenhead’s defence continued to hold firm.
Ryan Upward replaced Donnellan in the away side’s first change five minutes after the hour and the substitute was to strike the decisive blow just two minutes later. Dan Sparkes cut in from the left and squared the ball across the six-yard box, where UPWARD was waiting to tap the ball into the net and make it 3-0.
Reece Smith replaced Barratt after the goal, then Acquah was booked after kicking the ball away following the award of a Town free kick.
Acquah had an opportunity to make it four for Maidenhead but could only fin the side-netting from Sparkes’ pull-back on 74 minutes.
Soon afterwards, Town were given a lifeline when Abrahams was brought down inside he box and the referee blew for the games second penalty. ABRAHAMS kept his nerve from the spot to reduce the deficit back to two goals.
Dieseruvwe replaced Taylor for the last 14 minutes and Nathan Blissett came on for Acquah in the yellow of the visitors five minutes later.
Smith was booked for a foul near the halfway line as the 10-man hosts now started to look tired.
But they kept attacking and a shot from Holohan was blocked just before the game moved into six added minutes.
Maidenhead’s Smith then saw a shot blocked after going clear through the middle, before Crocombe made a good save from Sparkes after he also went clear through the centre.
Town were unable to find a second goal as the visitors saw the remainder of the game out, so despite their efforts, they were left with nothing.
Thoughts will now turn to Tuesday night, when there will be another opportunity for Town to seal a top-seven finish as Boreham Wood visit Blundell Park.