Worksop Town’s title hopes were dealt another blow as they lost to landlords Handsworth Parramore by a single controversial goal.
The game’s winner came after Tigers keeper Jon Stewart appeared to be barged out of the way – the match officials seeing nothing wrong however.
Before kick-off Tigers suffered a setback when Phil Roe failed a late fitness test; Connor Johnson coming in.
Worksop started brightly creating two good chances in the opening four minutes as Andrew Snaith twice came to the Parras’ rescue, saving Andy Ofosu’s effort then tipping over Mitch Husbands’ shot.
It was not long before Handsworth created their first chance but Alex Rippon’s shot was blocked by Johnson.
After the frantic start the game settled down as both sides looked to get on top.
It was however the Ambers who had the next chance as Rippon ran onto Sam Smith’s header only to be denied by a superb tackle from Johnson.
At the other end Tigers nearly took the lead when Higginson’s corner fell to Jake Scott whose shot was well parried by Snaith.
The deadlock was eventually broken on 28 minutes in controversial circumstances when the referee failed to award a free-kick for a clear push on the Tigers keeper, leaving Rippon to head home Danny Buttle’s retaken corner; Stewart and Tom Burgin receiving a yellow card for their protests.
Minutes later Stewart had to be alert to prevent Handsworth doubling their lead, parrying Luke Fletcher’s shot round the post for a corner.
And it was Stewart who came to the rescue again on the stroke of half-time as he produced a magnificent point blank save from Smith’s header.
As in the first half the second half started with Snaith saving from Ofosu.
It was not long before Stewart was called into action again, producing an excellent save to tip over Callum Harrison’s shot from 22 yards out.
As the half went on the game became scrappy as both sides started to make changes.
The Tigers cause wasn’t helped when Scott fell awkwardly and was carried off, replaced by James Cottingham.
Worksop continued to look for an equaliser and although Cottingham started to have an influence the Parras defended.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes Richard Adams produced an excellent block to deflect Higginson’s shot wide, from Chris Adam’s cut back.
Then on 90 minutes Parramore nearly made the game safe when Smith’s header was cleared off the line.
The Tigers had one final chance to grab a point deep into added time when good work from Tom Elliott set up Jono Wafula who blazed his shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat.
The defeat left the Tigers three points behind Shaw Lane Aquaforce who also have a game in hand.
It marked Worksop’s second game without a win, and their frustration was compounded by the news that title favourites Shaw Lane had drawn 0-0 for the second game running.
Handsworth Parramore: Snaith, Starosta, Eades, Harrison, Adams, Lawrence, Rippon (S. Harrison 64), Fletcher, Smith, Wells (Holden 73), Buttle (Marrison 84). Not used: Joynes, Edridge.
Worksop Town: STEWART 6, Wafula 5, Johnson 6 (Ward 71), Henshaw 6, Liversidge 6, Burgin 6, Elliott 6, Scott 6 (Cottingham 64), Husbands 5 (Adam 57), Ofosu 5, Higginson 5. Not used: Sellars, Jordan.
Goals: Rippon 28.
Booked: Smith 35; Stewart 28, Burgin 28.
Referee: Chris Hunter.
Assistants: Mark Thomas, James Shipley.