Stockport County threw away a 2-1 lead at high-flying Brackley Town as they eventually lost 3-2 at St James’ Park to fall further behind the play-off pack.
A second half brace from Aaron Williams cancelled out strikes from Matty Warburton and Chris Smalley to see the Saints move into second place at the expense of Harrogate.
In what was a fast-paced game, Brackley took the lead in the 16th minute courtesy of Shane Byrne, who dispossessed Bohan Dixon and slotted under Ben Hinchliffe from just inside the area.
It was a blow to the Hatters, who had started the game as the better side. Fortunately, they were level five minutes later from an unlikely source. Chris Smalley slotted home from the near post to make it 1-1, after a corner was headed on by Jason Oswell.
Sustained pressure from County eventually paid off at the end of the first half when Gary Stopforth’s through ball was met by Warburton, who drilled past Danny Lewis to score his 14th of the season in all competitions.
HT: Brackley 1-2 County
With news of Harrogate Town losing at FC United, the home side came out firing as they looked to move into second place at the Yorkshire side’s expense.
It didn’t take long for Brackley’s leading scorer, Aaron Williams, to draw his side level. The striker evaded Stephen O’Halloran and saw his deflected strike bounce past Hinchliffe for his 20th of the season.
Despite Harry Winter and Scott Duxbury joining the fray to bolster County’s defence. The home side were ahead soon after, with Williams this time hacking the ball home from close range to see his side taking the lead for the second time in the game.
Late pressure from Duxbury, Darren Stephenson and Dixon was eventually in vain, as Jim Gannon’s men tasted defeat for the first time in five games.
FT: Brackley 3-2 County
Not an entirely unexpected defeat, with Brackley undefeated at home all season, but one which will particularly hurt County fans due to the manner of the loss.
Scorers: Smalley (21), Warburton (42).
Squad: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Mantack, Ball, Smalley, O’Halloran (Stephenson, 74), McKenna (Duxbury, 61), Stopforth, Oswell (Winter, 64), Warburton, Dixon.
Unused: Ormson, Clarke.