Two red cards paved the way for Harrogate Railway to fall to defeat at Yorkshire rivals Ossett Town on Saturday.
Railway lost experienced central defender Matt Heath within the opening minutes after the former Leeds United man’s foul was adjudged to have denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Ossett defender Steve Jeff scored from the resulting free-kick to leave Railway with an uphill struggle for the rest of the clash.
Nathan Curtis doubled the hosts lead shortly into the second-half before Joe Brennan’s made it three on 63 minutes.
Captain Jason Mycoe gave Railway a consolation strike with his first league goal for the club before Adam Baker saw red for a second booking.
Boss Billy Miller bemoaned the refereeing decisions, but insisted it would be soon forgotten ahead of Saturday’s clash at home to bottom outfit Padiham.
He said: “I think both sendings off were harsh. Matt got tangled up with the defender, and because the referee gave a free-kick, he felt he had to send him off.
“There’s no argument over Baker’s second booking, but the first came just because he put the ball in the net when he was offside.
“We will draw a line under it. Ossett got the win they deserved and for us, playing 86 minutes with ten men, it wasn’t our best day at the office.
“It’s not a lack of discipline at all, it was just the outcome of two refereeing decisions on the day.”
The defeat dropped Miller’s men down to tenth in Evo-Stik First Division North, and the boss has as good as given up the ghost in Railway’s play-off bid this campaign.
However, he was still keen to pursue a record points haul of 60, which would require eight more points from their last eight matches.
“If we get there, we can start to raise the bar again,” Miller said.
“We are doing small short term goals. There’s no way the season will be fizzling out, especially on Saturday against a Padiham side who are fighting for their lives.”
Padiham are rock bottom in the table but frustrated Railway when the sides met in Burnley on February 7.
The Lancashire outfit have only won three times in 34 league games this season.