Hallam’s play-off hopes suffered a huge setback with a 4-3 defeat against AFC Emley at Sandygate Road on Tuesday evening that ended the Countrymen’s 13 match unbeaten league record.
It means that Hallam must now win their remaining two games at Rossington Main on Saturday then at home against champions Knaresborough Town on Monday and hope that Glasshoughton Welfare fail to win at Worsbrough BA (also on Monday), if they are to finish sixth.
On a pitch that was barely playable following constant rain through the afternoon, Hallam had a great chance to take an early lead when Ben Thornton got clear but dragged his shot wide on the wet surface.
Emley seemed to adapt to the conditions better and rocked the home side with two quick fire goals. Curtis Roberts found space on the left to deliver a cross into the middle where Alex Slack scored with a downward header at the far post. Just a minute later an attack down the right saw the ball pulled back for Gregg Porter to slot home the second.
After Jake Currie had gone close at the start of the second half, Hallam suddenly found themselves 3-0 down on 50 minutes when Rhys Thomas turned in the box to score with a low shot past Dave Darwent.
The Countrymen were given hope a minute later when they got one back through a Currie penalty after Dunne had been fouled by the Emley keeper.
Hallam were right back in the game on 58 minutes as Ollie Beaumont got his head to a corner to make it 3-2.
There controversy five minute later when substitute James Reed was brought down just inside the area only for the referee to award a free-kick on the edge of the box. Hallam piled on the pressure in search of the equaliser knowing a point would had been enough to keep the play-offs in their own hands. Dunne saw his effort smothered by the keeper, Thornton hooked a decent chance over the bar then Sam Smith forced a brilliant save from the visitors keeper with an angled drive.
With six minutes remaining Hallam were caught on a swift break as Joel Harrison, with what looked like an intended cross, dropped inside the back post.
In what had been a pulsating second half, the Countrymen made it 4-3 in the 89th minute as Dunne turned in Reed’s cross at the near post but the home side were beaten by the clock in what would had been a crucial point.
With Handsworth Parramore already assured of fourth-place, Jas Colliver’s side kept up the pressure on Pickering Town in the battle for third spot as the Ambers made it four wins on the spin after beating relegation threatened Harrogate RA 3-1 at Sandy Lane.
Realistically, AFC Mansfield and Pontefract Collieries look set to fill the top two places so its all about who can grab what could be an all important third slot come the end of the season.
After an even opening Handsworth edged in from on 31 minutes thorough James Ashmore’s precise 25-yard strike. Jon Hill doubled the lead from six-yards on 71 minutes from Nicholson’s ball into the box.
Harrogate were back in the game a couple of minutes later through Michael Thompson’s speculative 40-yard effort. However, Hill headed in his second and Handsworth’s third seven minutes from time from Nichols cross to seal the points.
Worksop Town’s dreadful run continued with a 5-2 defeat at relegation battling Athersley Recreation.
It was the Tigers 11th defeat in the last 12 league outings, while for Athersley it ended a a run of three games without a win and edged them that little bit close to Premier Division safety with the Barnsley outfit opening up a nine-point cushion over the bottom three.
Lee Garside gave Athersley a third minute lead with a far post header from a Jack Briscoe corner. Briscoe then crossed for Ben Walker to nod in the second three minutes later. Briscoe then got on the score-sheet himself when his 30 yard effort found the net with just 28 minutes on the clock.
Worksop pulled one back moments later through Mitch Husbands free-kick. However, eight minutes from the interval Athersley had restored the three-goal cushion with Briscoe again the architect cross for Kai Hancock to convert from six-yards.
The home side put the result beyond doubt with the fifth midway through the second half as Josh Diggles came out of his goal to clear only to miss-kick leaving Hancock with a easy tap in. The Tiger reduced the arrears nine minutes from time when Joel Phillips steered in from a ball across the box.
Worksop have now lost 12 and won only two since Duncan Milligan replaced Ryan Hindley at the beginning of February.
Dronfield Town twice came from behind to beat FC Bolsover 4-2 at Stonelow Road to leave the visitors just two points above the Division One trap door.
Ben Copestake gave Bolsover a second minute lead which they held until the 33rd minutes when Tom Feather nodded in from a corner to level the scores.
Oliver Perry’s 58th minutes free-kick had the visitors in front once more but Dronfield hit back immediately through Mark Fereday, who then put Town in front for the first time five minutes later after latching one to a ball over the top to fire in his 25th goal of the season, before Callum Mawbev wrapped up the points with a late fourth.
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic went down 4-0 at Grimsby Borough but remain four points above the drop zone and could seal their safety with a win against fellow strugglers Brigg Town.
Armthorpe Welfare finished their season with a late minute 3-2 home defeat to Swallownest.
Alex Lill had put Swallownest ahead inside the opening five minutes but two quick fire goals from Alan Jackson on 68 and 71 minutes had Armthorpe in front.
However, Swallownest hit back to equalise through Danny Mullooly four minutes later before Juninho Blake broke away final minute to snatch all-three points.
Premier Division: AFC Mansfield v Athersley Recreation, Bottesford Town v Worksop Town, Handsworth Parramore v Staveley MW, Hemsworth MW v Parkgate, Maltby Main v Pontefract Collieries, Penistone Church v Clipstone.
Division One: Dronfield Town v Knaresborough Town, Hallam v Rossington Main (at Rossington FC).