Brackley Town’s see-saw season continued with a heavy 4-1 defeat at Hednesford Town in the Conference North.
Following the previous weekend’s 5-1 win over Stalybridge Celtic, Saints went ahead against the promotion chasers before a late capitulation.
With the game in the balance at 1-1 heading into the final five minutes, Hednesford exploded into life and netted three goals in a matter of minutes to condemn Saints to their fifth defeat in five games.
The defeat keeps Brackley in relegation danger and as a result, manager Jon Brady has signed goalkeeper Dean Snedker, who was released by Northampton Town this week.
Brady has brought in the 20-year-old after he impressed in a short loan spell at St James Park earlier in the season.
The Saints boss said: “Dean did very well when he was with us earlier and with the March deadline coming up we needed to get some cover.”
In Saturday’s encounter at Hednesford, the home side could have taken an early lead as former Saints favourite Steve Diggin and then Adam Thomas spurned good positions before Ryan Rowe finished Brackley’s first attacking move on 11 minutes, planting his header from Greg Kaziboni’s pinpoint cross past the helpless Dan Crane to shock the play-off contenders.
As so often this season, however, the lead was short-lived as Hednesford bundled the ball over the line after good work by Jamey Osborne, although there was a suspicion of offside with the goal credited to another ex-Brackley man, Marvin Robinson.
Robinson’s acrobatic overhead kick then crashed onto the crossbar as the Pitmen enjoyed the better first half chances but the match remained all square at half-time.
Rowe was unable to capitalise on two good opportunities in the early moments of the second period before Hednesford saw Tom Thorley’s shot drilled at Billy Turley.
With the clock ticking on, the game appeared to be heading for a stalemate as the home side made three late substitutions, but, in an 84th minute goalmouth scramble, Brackley failed to clear and Nick Rushton somehow squeezed his shot into the goal to give his side a late lead.
That lead was increased further in the dying moments as Rushton claimed another, rounding Turley and tapping into an empty net, before Osborne judged the flight of his 45-yard effort to perfection as it sailed over Turley.
The full-time scoreline flattered the home side after a fairly even encounter, though there could be no doubting that Hednesford had warranted all three points.
Brackley are 15th in the Conference North and with a home game to come against Stockport County this weekend, Brady knows his side must find some consistency.
He added: “The players are giving me everything but their decision making is still costing us late on in games.
“I want us to get 14 points from our remaining ten games because I still think we can reach our 50-point target. It’s going to be tight and I’ve told the players that consistency is the key to success, at all levels.”
Hednesford: Crane, Hurst, Campion, Bailey, Kerry (Batchelor 60), Thorley, Osborne, Thomas (Todd 73), Robinson, Diggin (Rushton 78), Walker.
Saints: Turley, Roddy Collins, Carruthers, Eddie Odhiambo, Pierpoint, Austin, Eric Odhiambo (Built 55), Whittall, Rowe, Kaziboni (Nelson-Addy 88), Moyo (Green 85).