Worksop Town failed to live up to the high standards they have set this season, on a miserable afternoon in Barnsley.
The 2-1 defeat at Shaw Lane Aquaforce was the right result, as Tigers struggled to keep hold of the ball or do anything meaningful with it for long periods.
Their title rivals stopped Mark Shaw’s men from ever getting into a rhythm, and perhaps felt unlucky to only win by a goal.
In horrible rainy conditions, both sides struggled to get control in the opening stages.
Joe Thornton had the game’s first shot on target, a long distance blast warming the hands of Ben Gathercole.
A tackle by Luke Shiels, deemed fair by the officials, left Shaw Lane furious and Worksop on the break, but Dre Johnson’s first touch was heavy and left him too much to do with his shot, Jamie Bailey saving.
Tigers were lucky not to fall behind after a scrappy 18 minutes, Thornton causing trouble again, two shots taking deflections before Shiels could clear.
The Barnsley side were playing the better football, home left-back Luke O’Brien striding forward into acres of space and firing just wide of the right post.
It was the visitors who took a 27th minute lead however, Conor Sellars being put clean through and although Jamie Bailey made the save, Johnson was there to score from the rebound.
Shiels, who had seen plenty of action throughout the first half, was fortunate not to put through his own net with a sliced clearance from O’Brien going over the bar.
A goal for the hosts was coming, and with three minutes left in the half it arrived - two hooked balls over the top of defenders and a simple pass to the middle allowing Andrew Fox to steal in and hit the net.
Another, the other side of half-time, was only thwarted by Shiels’ fantastic block, denying George Conway in the middle after Sam Liversidge was beaten for pace.
Conway was then halted by Gathercole at the back post with two brave stops, having left Liversidge for dead.
With little movement ahead of him skipper Jake Scott took matters into his own hands, driving forward all the way into the box and winning a corner, but the set-piece was wasted.
Thornton was still the dangerman for Shaw Lane and having beaten Smythe all too easily teed Jimmy Eyles up for a shot, Tigers getting bodies in the way.
The resulting corner to the back post was headed into the dangerzone and Fox would have grabbed his second had Smythe not headed off the line.
Aquaforce were in front for the first time on 71 minutes and Tigers were the architects of their own downfall.
Gathercole took too long to come out and claim a simple looking ball, and when Shane Kelsey got a toe to it, the keeper just mowed down the attacker - who got up to smash home the resulting penalty.
Antonio Wedderburn took the place of the disappointing Johnson and was soon afforded a long range shooting chance, but he sent it well wide.
Tigers were fortunate not to go 3-1 down with eight minutes left, a great ball to the back post headed onto the bar by Kelsey, who had got the wrong side of Pursehouse.
Shaw Lane should have wrapped it up in the final minute when Mathew Thornhill stole in at the back stick with Gathercole scrambling to get across, but he skied the volley.
And at the other end, Pursehouse put in a lung busting run down the right, crossing to the middle where home replacement Richard Haigh deflected it goalwards and was rescued by his keeper.
Defeat leaves Tigers five points behind leaders Tadcaster, in fourth position.
Shaw Lane: Bailey, Storher, O’Brien, Foster, Holt, Denton (R. Haigh 83), Fox (Nix 75), Thornhill, Thornton, Eyles, George Conway (Kelsey 62). Not used: P. Haigh, Morris.
Worksop: Gathercole 5, Pursehouse 5, Smythe 4 , Scott 5, Liversidge 5, SHIELS 6, Sellars 4 (Jordan 82), Hawkins 5 (Whincop 53), Husbands 4, Johnson 4 (Wedderburn 74), Elliott 5. Not used: Weaver, Waddle.
Referee: Christoper Akers.
Assistants: Mathew Tyers, Stuart Royston.
Goalscorers: Fox 42, Kelsey 71; Johnson 27
Yellows: Thornton 33, Kelsey 88