Alfreton Town hang precariously just one point above the drop zone after losing their vital National League North encounter at home to rivals AFC Telford United on Tuesday night.
lt was the worst possible outcome for the Reds against a team that are struggling both on and off the field, former Matlock Town loanee Marcus Dinanga’s strike the difference between the two sides.
And it left Alfreton boss Chris Moyses disappointed at the opportunity missed.
He said: “I’m gutted - as a group we weren’t good enough tonight - we let ourselves down, and l can only apologise to the fans for that.
“There are things l take for granted that we didn’t get off them all - we need to regroup and get ourselves ready because we’re in a dogfight.
“Ten days without a game didn’t help and it’s caused us a bit of a problem if the truth be told - they’re going to have to lift themselves up for the crucial game at Southport.
“We’ve got to go there with a game plan and prove that we can do it - it’s worrying form [five games without a win and just two points] - we’ve got to start winning some football matches.”
Dinanga latched on to a poor clearance to drill the ball low past Viktor Johansson with just 12 minutes on the clock, but it was fully 13 minutes later before Alfreton created any sort of response with Brendon Daniels going close from a Tom Allan cross.
Telford were happy to sit on their lead, stifling the Reds at every opportunity, but it was still a pretty lack-lustre performance by the hosts, who needed the alertness of Tom Platt to cut out a Jordan Lussey cross from a swift break on the cusp of half-time, with Johansson holding Ross White’s volley from the ensuing corner.
There was certainly more urgency from Alfreton after the interval, notably with Luke Shiels’ header from Daniels’ 57th minute corner being hacked off the line by Bob Harris, although Telford should have doubled their advantage 11 minutes later when Dinanga headed against the crossbar from close range from a Lussey cross.
Despite promising without delivering the Reds were pegged back again with 15 minutes remaining as both Elliot Newby and John Marsden failed to test the keeper from good chances.
The final ten minutes saw Alfreton push forward in a dogged attempt to rectify the situation, Daniels firing a venomous free-kick that visiting keeper Ben Wilson juggled with before controlling, Chris Sharp hooking over from an off-side position and right at the end Ryan Jennings forcing a superb save from Wilson when an equaliser looked to be on the cards.
Alfreton: Johansson; Beevers, Shiels, Green, Allan, Platt [Baxendale 74], Marshall, Daniels, Keane [Jennings 51], Bell [Westcarr 63], Sharp.
Subs not used: Topliss, Disley.