Melton Town again saw red in a United Counties league top-of-the-table clash as they fell to two second-half goals against second-placed Anstey Nomads on Saturday.
Having had three players sent off in controversial fashion against Lutterworth, Melton this time ended the match with nine.
The game could have ended so differently had Melton converted their chances, but ultimately they were beaten by the better side.
Town kicked off at the Signright knowing the outcome would either lift them into second place and put them firmly back in the Division One promotion race, or fall back into the chasing pack.
Recent form had been inconsistent, but the previous weekend’s thrashing of Aylestone Park persuaded co-manager Tom Manship to name an unchanged side for the first time this season.
A bumper crowd of 152 watched as Anstey began on the front foot and testing the home defence, with Hicks flicking on a free-kick to Ash Day whose half-volley flashed across goal.
Melton went close when Tom Rigby played a ball down the line to Jordan Lever who played a ball across to Michael Reeve which was well defended to prevent the opening goal.
The first 20 minutes were spent with Melton defending against a well-drilled Anstey attack, leading to three bookings which would come back to haunt the hosts later in the game.
Midway through the half another Rigby pass found Reeve on the right and he beat the defender, but Smith closed down the angle well to smother his shot.
Then came the best chance of the match. After some lovely football on the edge of Anstey’s box, Rigby played in a great cross which found Reeve unmarked six yards out, but Town’s leading scorer sent his header inches wide.
While Anstey dominated possession, Melton continued to carve out all the chances.
Reeve’s attempted chip was kept out by the goalkeeper’s fingertips before Hill almost broke the deadlock when he volleyed Reeve’s cross over the bar.
And from the first attack of the second half, Leon Fray headed Manship’s corner against the post.
The visitors started to control the game, and home keeper Rob Peet had to come out to prevent Chitiza from scoring.
The deadlock was eventually broken in he 67th minute when Taylor’s long ball into the box was knocked down by Chitiza to Hick who slid in to finish into an empty net.
Four minutes later the game was all over when Melton lost the ball in midfield.
Matwasa collected the loose ball and beat the defence for pace before slotting past Peet.
Frustration got the better of the hosts when Lever was sent off for a second bookable offence, followed by Wilson for his second yellow card.
The nine men dug in to see the game to its conclusion.
Town have a County Cup quarter-final at home to Cottesmore on Tuesday evening (ko 7.30pm) followed by two away games against top-seven sides, starting at Northampton Sileby Rangers on Saturday (3pm), and Manship will be expecting another good response.
Town: Peet, Rigby, Leon Fray, Levi Fray, Manship, Wilson, Baker, Hill, Reeve, Lever, Heath (Thorpe).