Melton Foxes U18s travelled to high-flyers Blaby and Whetstone on Sunday with high hopes, but early mistakes early and a poor first half blew away their chances.
Foxes had the first sight of goal after only two minutes when Alex Horobin sent Shaun Smith clear, but his shot was pushed onto the post by the home keeper.
Blaby made Melton pay dearly by taking the lead after five minutes when a flick by Jake Dawkins was collected by keeper Chris Lovegrove and the referee awarded the home side a free-kick from close range for a backpass.
A short kick was duly rammed into the bottom corner.
Blaby nearly increased their lead when George Wilkinson missed his tackle, but Lovegrove came to the rescue with a fine save.
Seconds later Joe Nickolls upended a Blaby striker and the resulting penalty was fired past Lovegrove for 2-0.
Foxes hit back and Marcus Rowland broke down the right before crossing for Smith who headed over. Smith returned the compliment, crossing to Rowland who brought a super save out of the home keeper.
Blaby took a firm grip on the game on the half-hour when a long throw-in was glanced on, leaving their centre-forward with a simple headed goal from close range.
Smith was presented with an immediate chance to respond, but having rounded the keeper, completely missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
Blaby made it 4-0 in the 40th minute when a long ball left their striker free to finish past the helpless Lovegrove.
Seconds before the break, Tom Dryell met Smith’s cross, but shot wide from a good position.
Five minutes into the second half Foxes pulled one back when Adam Lomas, who performed well throughout, cleverly beat his full-back on the right and crossed for Dryell to head in from close range.
Smith shot wide from a Horobin cross as Foxes began to get a foothold in the match.
But they could not create enough openings and Blaby restored their four-goal lead when a corner was headed in despite a valiant attempted clearance by full-back Aaron Doherty.
Horobin sent Rowland clear who in turn found Lomas, but his shot flew over, and Lomas’ quick throw then sent Horobin through and his first-time volley hit the side stanchion.
Smith was then through in the dying moments, but saw the keeper make a good save befoe Lovegrove’s replied with an even better stop to deny the home side a sixth.
Foxes will be disappointed, but heartened by their second-half rally as they dominated for long periods.
With just three matches left, Foxes have an outside chance of a top four finish, but must fire on all cylinders to do so.
Foxes: C. Lovegrove, R. Gavin, J. Nickolls, J. Dawkin, G. Wilkinson, A. Lomas, A. Walker, A. Horobin, T. Dryell, M. Rowland, S. Smith, A. Doherty, C. Ainge.