Marc Newsham struck twice from the penalty spot but it was not enough to prevent Boston United slipping to a 3-2 midweek defeat to Worcester City.
Newsham twice levelled from the spot following strikes from Michael Taylor and Mike Symons, but Matt Birley won it for Worcester with the third spot-kick of the evening.
Newsham, Spencer Weir-Daley and Conor Marshall all rattled the woodwork during the second period, but Worcester always looked menacing on the attack.
The result effectively ended United’s play-off pursuit ahead of their final six fixtures of the campaign.
Worcester took the lead on 19 minutes. Former Aston Villa trainee Ellis Deeney delivered a cross from the left and TAYLOR guided the ball home at Paul Bastock’s near post.
Symons drilled two efforts off target for the visitors, before United threatened with Weir-Daley blazing wide following a Ben Milnes assist.
United levelled on 33 minutes when Weir-Daley was fouled by Stuart Whitehead in the box and NEWSHAM blasted home the first spot-kick of the game.
Parity was short-lived through. Greg Mills’ corner was only partially cleared and SYMONS crashed the ball home from 12 yards.
The Pilgrims responded with Newsham and Milnes combining well, only to see the former denied by an excellent Whitehead block.
United levelled for a second time three minutes after the break. Deeney was adjudged to have fouled NEWSHAM, who picked himself up to coolly dispatch his second penalty of the evening.
Boston should have taken the lead when James Dormand saved well from substitute Ryan Semple, with Weir-Daley turning the loose ball against the outside of the post.
Worcester appealed for a penalty at the other end when Ian Ross blocked Symons’ drive on the line — but City’s handball shouts fell on deaf ears.
United came even closer when Gareth Jelleyman’s pinpoint cross narrowly evaded Newsham who was chasing his first-ever United hat-trick — and full-back Marshall cut inside to smack the post with a rising drive from inside the area.
Worcester took the lead once again on 67 minutes. Nathan Stainfield fouled Taylor and BIRLEY sent Bastock the wrong way from the spot.
Dormand produced a brilliant save moments later — tipping Newsham’s header to safety via the crossbar.
United continued to create, with Dormand saving well to deny Semple, before Kevin Austin headed a fraction wide following a late Ross free-kick, but the Pilgrims ran out of time to force a third equaliser.
Boston (4-3-3): Paul Bastock; Conor Marshall, Nathan Stainfield, Kevin Austin, Gareth Jelleyman; Ben Milnes, Ian Ross, Danny Sleath (Josh Burge 72); Ben Fairclough (Ryan Semple 46), Spencer Weir-Daley, Marc Newsham. Subs (not used): Kallum Smith, Tom Ward, Lee Canoville.
Worcester (4-4-2): James Dormand; Dwayne Samuels, Jacob Rowe, Stuart Whitehead, Ellis Deeney; Matt Birley, Rob Elvins, Tyler Weir (Phil Green 86), Greg Mills (Danny Edwards 52); Mike Symons, Michael Taylor (Danny Carey-Bertram 75). Subs (not used): Lee Ayres, Matt Sargeant (gk).
Referee: Adrian Holmes