Tadcaster Albion were beaten by a 95th-minute strike in Easter Monday’s Evo-Stik Division One North clash with Scarborough Athletic.
Billy Miller’s heavily-depleted side looked to have earned themselves a point following a resolute defensive display at Queensgate, but were eventually undone when Benny Igiehon struck late on.
The Brewers made the trip to the East Coast minus the services of skipper Gregg Anderson, injured during Saturday’s defeat to Hyde United, midfielder Jono Greening and attackers Carl Stewart and Josh Greening.
With Rob Youhill, Tom Corner and Conor Sellars all having picked up knocks at the weekend, none of them were fit enough to begin the game, and Albion’s starting line-up had an unfamiliar feel to it.
Assistant manager Matt Heath took over from Anderson at centre-half, making his first start of the season, while Carlos Djaló, Piteu Crouz, Fatlum Ibrahimi, Jason Mycoe and Liam Shepherd also came in.
With so many changes to the visitors’ side, it was no surprise that play-off chasing Boro settled the quicker of the two teams.
And they could have led as early as the fourth minute, when Igiehon pulled the ball back from the left-hand side of the penalty area and into the path of strike partner Jacob Hazel.
The home number 10 unleashed a powerful first-time strike close to the penalty spot, but Albion gloveman Chandler Hallwood thwarted him with a fine reaction save at point-blank range.
A number of misplaced passes and sliced clearances from both sets of players disrupted the rhythm of the game during the opening quarter of an hour and Taddy inparticular struggled to generate much forward momentum.
They were however almost gifted a chance to take the lead in the 23rd minute when Athletic goalkeeper Joe Green came off his line to claim Jordan Armstrong’s right-wing free-kick into the box and dropped the ball, but there was nobody in a white shirt on hand to capitalise.
As the half wore on, Boro began to cause their visitors a few problems in the final third and Craig Nelthorpe had a sight of goal but curled a left-footed strike high and wide.
The Brewers defended well, marshalled by the impressive Josh Barrett at centre-half, and although they enjoyed plenty of possession, the Seadogs never really threatened Hallwood’s goal.
Matty Turnbull twice climbed well to meet corner kicks, but headed over the top on both occasions, and the sides went into half-time with the game still goalless.
The first chance of the second period went to Boro when Igiehon ran on to a long ball into the right-hand channel, showed good strength to hold off his man and then cut inside before hitting a low effort too close to Hallwood.
At the other end, Fatlum Ibrhami made good progress down the right before picking out Dan Thirkell, but his shot from the edge of the box cleared the crossbar by some distance.
Hazel then flicked wide on the half-volley from the edge of the box and the dangerous Turnbull got on the end of another set-piece, but nodded directly into the arms of Hallwood.
Tadcaster struggled to make any real impression as an attacking force during the course of the game, however they did eventually force Green into action in the 69th minute when Josh Grant teed up Liam Shepherd, who rolled a tame side-footer straight at the stopper.
By contrast, Boro were having no such difficulty in creating chances and Igiehon rose highest to meet an Adam Bolder corner, only to plant his header down into the turf and wide of the target.
Substitute Billy Logan then demonstrated some nice hold-up play before laying the ball off to Igiehon to fizz an effort on target from 20 yards out, but Hallwood was equal to the strike and palmed it around his right-hand post.
There was a bit of head tennis inside the six-yard box from the resulting corner, but Tadcaster surived unscathed and when Igiehon rammed a shot straight down Hallwood’s throat in the third minute of stoppage-time, it looked like Athletic’s last chance to win the game had gone.
Play continued however, and Tadcaster - who had taken every available opportunity to waste time during the second period - were forced to defend one final corner, with 95 minutes on the clock.
With goalkeeper Green up from the back as the hosts made one last push for the three points that they needed to climb into a play-off berth, the initial delivery into the box came to nothing.
But possession was recycled and Merris crossed the ball from the left and into the path of Igiehon.
Again showing his physical prowess, the big striker held off his marker with his back to goal before shifting the ball onto his left foot and rifling past Hallwood at his near post.
The goal sparked scenes of jubiliation among the home contingent, but was a bitter pill for Albion to swallow having come so close to seeing the job out.
There was just about time to re-start the game, but the final whistle followed soon afterwards, signalling a third straight league loss for Miller’s men, and dropping them down a place to 17th in the league standings.