Lancaster City’s title hopes suffered a big blow as they went down at in-form Prescot Cables on Tuesday night.
Second-half goals from Dominic Marie and Joe Faux, the latter taking a big deflection off Ben Hudson, mean Phil Brown’s side are one point behind Farsley Celtic with three games to play.
The hosts for their part moved eight games unbeaten and secured their Evo-Stik First Division North status for another season.
On a difficult pitch it was an even first half with the visitors having the best of the chances in an opening period low on goalmouth action.
Jordan Connerton volleyed a loose ball just over the bar inside the first 90 seconds with Preston North End loanee Josh Earl driving at the Prescot defence before dragging his shot from just outside the area wide on the quarter hour.
Louis Mayers also found space in on the left side of the penalty area 27 minutes in but couldn’t make the most of the opportunity and ended up poking the ball tamely wide.
Perhaps the most significant action of the first half was the Dollies losing their captain Ricky Mercer to injury, Hudson taking his place alongside Joshua Westwood at the heart of the defence.
Prescot’s best opening before the break came on 40 minutes, the ball sitting up nicely for Christopher Almond who fired a shot that was always rising over Mike Hale’s crossbar.
The hosts didn’t have to wait long to get their noses in front though as they took the lead five minutes into the second half.
Marie was played in behind the Lancaster defence and made no mistake one-on-one with Hale.
In response the Dolly Blues could only muster half chances in their search for an equaliser.
Craig Carney’s shot from the edge of the area was hacked away in the six-yard box on 55 minutes and then just before the hour mark Mayers could only drag an effort wide.
Prescot doubled their advantage on 63 minutes as they delivered a hammer blow to City’s title aspirations.
Faux cut into the area from the right with his left-footed shot taking a huge deflection off the outstretched boot of Hudson that wrong-footed Hale and sent the ball into the back of the net.
That was just about that as the Dollies never looked like finding a way back into the game.
Hale was on hand to deny Faux a second 12 minutes from time with a low save before City’s only chance of note late on saw Carney’s effort smothered by Nosakhare Aghayere after he had been found by Connerton’s miss-hit shot.
Prescot Cables: Aghayere, Flood, Edgar, McCullough, Herbert, Scarisbrick, Almond, Wright, Marie, Dolling, Dean. Subs: Billington, Coyne, Faux
Lancaster City: Hale, Wills, Mercer, Westwood, Sumner, Winder, Akrigg, Carney, Earl, Connerton, Mayers. Subs: Raybould, G Clark, Z Clark, Gregory, Hudson
Referee: Jack Nield