Brackley Town’s promotion charge hit another stumbling block on Tuesday evening when they succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat to Guiseley.
Recent back-to-back wins over promotion rivals appeared to have put Saints back on track, but this defeat combined with Saturday’s draw at struggling Stalybridge Celtic leaves Brackley nine points off leaders AFC Telford.
A defensive lapse on 18 minutes presented Guiseley with the opening goal as Jake Lawlor took full advantage to convert Wayne Brooksby’s corner.
The goal followed an exhilarating exchange just minutes before as Brett Solkhon cleared off the line for Saints before Steve Diggin raced to the other end only to see his shot deflected onto the post.
There was little to excite the season’s smallest attendance aside from those moments, though, as the Whites maintained their slender lead into the break.
Second half possession was dominated by the home side with both teams creating plentiful chances as Saints pressed for the equaliser while Guiseley sought opportunities on the counter.
Eddie Nisevic, starting for Eddie Odhiambo, who was injured in the warm-up, posed a continual threat on the left and Steve Diggin and Stefan Moore were always working hard in tandem up front.
On the hour, Diggin finished superbly but saw his effort ruled out for an earlier foul that was hotly disputed, before Guiseley three times went close. bringing a save from Billy Turley, a goal-line clearance by Tom Sharpe and a follow-up effort narrowly wide as substitute Oli Johnson made an impact with his speed and agility around the danger zone.
Moore then hit a fierce drive that clipped the bar as Saints pushed for a goal with time running out, but it was the visitors who notched the crucial second goal thanks to Johnson’s neat finish.
There was still time for Brett Solkhon to glance his header past goalkeeper Steve Drench from Glenn Walker’s fine free-kick to narrow the advantage, but with added time already seeping away there was to be no last gasp equaliser and the visitors secured revenge for their home defeat to Saints at the start of the season.
Brackley remain fourth but could lose their play-off position if Harrogate and Altrincham win their games in hand.
Brackley: Turley, Clerima, Langdon, Nisevic, Sharpe, Austin, Reid (Mills 78), Solkhon, Moore, Diggin, Walker.
Subs not used: Towers, Mulligan, Bridges.
Guiseley: Drench, Holdsworth, Meynell, Parker, Ellis, Lawlor, Brooksby, Boshell (Rae 87), Holsgrove (O.Johnson 64), Boyes, Rothery.
Subs not used: Forrest, A.Johnson, Dickinson.
Referee: Marvyn Amphlett