Two lapses in concentration spoilt Melton Town’s chances of returning home from Irchester with at least a share of the spoils, condemning them to a 3-1 defeat.
After their terrific win at top six side Potton the previous Saturday, Town were hoping to repeat the feat at seventh-placed Irchester, but came unstuck with self-inflicted sucker-punch strikes.
Town manager Steve Hendey said: “While we never reached the heights of the previous week I thought our second half performance, on a poor surface, merited a point at the very least.
“But we only have ourselves to blame for switching off and allowing them to regain the lead when we were well on top.”
On a difficult, bumpy surface Melton started the brighter of the teams and in the opening 20 minutes looked the side most likely to open the scoring.
Aiden and Aaron Black were combining well on the right, and when the latter was unceremoniously taken out by a poor challenge by Heycock, with Love and Cufflin-Stableford free in the box, the home dugout feared the worst. But the referee took no action.
Irchester, with a stiff breeze in their favour, used the long ball to Clarke and Lovell who proved a real handful for Melton’s defence.
With half-time looming, Town carelessly gave away possession, allowing Miles to find Lovell, and with his back to goal the forward won a free-kick, conceded cheaply by the Melton defence.
Hamilton beat King with the 25-yard set piece to give Irchester the lead.
Melton attacked straight from the restart, again forcing the home side onto the back foot.
And they were soon level when a corner went through a crowd of players to Clayton to slot home at the far post.
Melton were well on top now and the Irchester goal survived two almighty goalmouth scrambles in the six-yard box.
A superb move between Aaron Black, Baker and Hendey ended with Love controlling well, but unable to keep his shot down and the chance passed.
But with Melton well in the ascendency and pushing for a second goal, they were then caught out by a quick throw-in.
Hughes hooked the ball on to Lovell who was given far too much time and space to put Irchester back in front against the run of play.
Melton brought on leading scorer Ash Palfreyman and continued to press for the equaliser, but they were dealt a severe blow when the hosts added a third from a quick break.
Taylor’s cross was missed by King, leaving Dickson with a simple header, and effectively killing off Melton’s chances of a revival.
Melton drop a place to 13th in UCL Division One, but remain just two points off 10th place with four matches of the season left.
On Saturday, they host ninth-placed Lutterworth who are just five points better off. Kick-off at Digital Deadline Park is 3pm.