Worksop Town’s title hopes suffered a major blow on Saturday, with a 3-1 home defeat to play-off chasing Rushall Olympic.
Tigers started brightly and thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Leon Mettam’s shot hit a defender’s outstretched arm, but the referee waved play on.
Ahmed Obeng gave warning of the Pics’ ability to hit Tigers on the break forcing Jon Stewart to save at his near post.
And on 11 minutes the visitors took the lead, Stanley Mugisha out muscling Jack Muldoon on the halfway line, running at the Tigers defence before firing past Stewart from 25 yards out.
Shane Clarke saw his shot cleared off the line then Chris Gemmell produced a flying save from Conor Higginson’s deflected volley as the home side looked for an equaliser.
Worksop continued to press but a well organised, hardworking Rushall side restricted the Tigers chances to a minimum; Adam Quinn heading wide from Phil Roe’s corner the closest the home side came to scoring.
Whilst being disciplined in defence the Pics continued to look dangerous on the break and Stewart had to be alert to come quickly off his line to block Obeng’s shot.
Rushall were late coming out for the second half, but were quick off the blocks once play resumed, doubling the lead on 47 minutes.
As Roe and James Dance challenged for Mugisha’s cross, Roe’s header fell to Dance who drilled the ball into the bottom corner.
However, nine minutes later Tigers pulled a goal back when a patient passing move around the penalty area ended with Jamie Jackson setting up Mettam who rifled the ball past Gemmell.
On the hour mark the Pics were reduced to 10 men when Carl Palmer was shown a straight red for elbowing Clarke as the two players challenged for the ball.
Rushall reacted to the red card by replacing Obeng with Josh Craddock as they reorganised, and they made it 3-1 following a defensive slip that allowed the dangerous Mugisha to cut in from the left and fire powerfully past Stewart.
Tom Denton saw his header from Jackson’s cross beat Gemmell only to be headed off the line by Gavin Caines as Tigers looked to get back into the game.
But that was as good as it got for Worksop in the final 20 minutes as the disciplined Rushall outfit comfortably kept the home side at bay as Tigers failed to take advantage of the extra man.
To compound Worksop’s misery, victories for teams around them saw them drop to fourth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table.
Worksop Town: Stewart 6, Pursehouse 6, Roe 6 (Thomas 85), Clay 6, Quinn 6, Burgin 6, Muldoon 6, Clarke 6, DENTON 7 (Garnett 79), Mettam (c) 6, Higginson 6 (Jackson 54). Not used: Salt, Burrell.
Rushall Olympic: Gemmell, Turner, Wood (Martyn 90), Caines (c), Smith, Dacres, Palmer, Dance, Obeng (Craddock 63), Spencer (Adebola 83), Mugisha. Not used: Daniel, Spink.
Goals: Mettam 56; Mugisha 11, 71, Dance 47.
Yellows: Higginson 15, Quinn 74; Caines 45.
Red: Palmer 60.
Referee: Mr N. Smith. Assistants: Mr J. O’Conner, Mr K. Frampton.