WORCESTER City’s hopes of breaking the 50-point barrier came to a disappointing end with a 4-0 defeat at promotion hopefuls Hednesford Town.
Second-half goals from Dave Macpherson, Wayne Riley, John Disney’s penalty and substitute Paul Sullivan secured victory for the hosts at Keys Park.
City were second best throughout, particularly after the break, and home keeper Dan Crane didn’t have a save to make.
Worryingly for Worcester, winger Danny Edwards, who has been out for a year following knee surgery, limped off just minutes after coming on as a late substitute.
That meant the visitors finished with 10 men, having used all their subs, and the Pitmen, already two goals to the good, rubbed salt in the wounds with two late strikes.
City can now only equal their points tally from last season of 50 if they beat Boston United at Aggborough on Saturday.
For Hednesford, the Skrill North play-offs beckon and their fans celebrated with a pitch invasion at the final whistle.
The first-half was low on quality from either side, not helped by an uneven pitch and swirling wind.
But the contest threatened to boil over in the 13th minute after Darren Campion was sent flying into the dug-out by a Martin Devaney challenge.
Both players squared up to each, forcing City manager Carl Heeley to intervene but no action was taken by referee Martin Dexter.
There was no shortage of robust challenges with no love lost between former City striker Danny Glover and Graham Hutchison.
Hednesford carried the greater threat but Leigh Bedwell was seldom tested.
Opposite number Crane, meanwhile, was little more than a sweeper as City offered nothing by way of a cutting edge in the opening 45 minutes.
The closest they came to scoring was a looping header on to the roof of his own net by home defender Ben Bailey.
Hednesford began to crank up the pressure after the break with Marvin Johnson’s drilled effort across the face of goal being deflected wide.
A whipped free-kick from Bailey bounced over the bar seconds later although it looked like Bedwell had got a touch.
The hosts’ pressure paid off four minutes later with a cracking goal from Macpherson, the midfielder watching the ball on to his left foot on the edge of the box before volleying it past a helpless Bedwell.
The hosts pushed for a second and it needed Bedwell to punch Johnson’s corner on to the bar to deny the Pitmen.
City, who had Tyler Weir, Ellis Deeney and Hutchison booked, struggled to contain Rob Smith’s side and Aaron Brown sending a header over from a corner was their best effort.
It was no surprise when the hosts, who forced a series of second-half corners, increased their lead in the 77th minute.
A long throw from Bailey fell to Riley via the head of City centre-half Thomas and the Hednesford player turned the ball past Bedwell on his near post.
Once Edwards had hobbled off, City were stretched and Hutchison felled Sullivan for an 89th-minute penalty which Disney converted.
Things got worse 60 seconds later when Sullivan beat the offside trap and easily rounded Bedwell to complete a comfortable victory.
City: Bedwell 6, G Williams 6, Weir 6, Hutchison 6, Thomas 6, Nelson-Addy 5, Nti 5 (Edwards 73), Deeney 5, Brown 6*, Moore 5 (Farrell 59, 5), Devaney 5 (A Williams 64, 5). Subs not used: J Smith, Veiga.