Kilsyth Rangers’ hopes of promotion suffered a severe setback when they were thumped 5-1 by rivals Petershill on Saturday.
Having been Super League First Division front runners for much of the season, this defeat was a real blow for Keith Hogg’s side.
Despite their recent poor run of form, a win here would have left them in a strong position to finish top with two games against already relegated teams still to come.
Instead they suffered a complete collapse and while they remain on course for a play-off spot, their hopes of securing one of the two automatic promotion places are no longer in their own hands.
The game started well enough, with Rangers pushing forward but there were early signs that the referee was not going to do them any favours; Nicky Prentice was hacked down on the edge of the Petershill box but no foul given.
But despite the glomy conditions - the floodlights came on after just 15 minutes - the outlook seemed bright for Rangers when Ian Diack headed home a Kevin McBride corner to give them a deserved lead.
But then came the turning point of the game.
Stephen McGladrigan went down in the Rangers box and, with the visitors expecting a yellow card for diving, the referee awarded a penalty and showed a red card to Kilsyth defender Mark Tyrrell.
To add insult to injury Andy Carlin pulled off a great save from Jordan Murch’s spot kick, only for the Petershill player to head home in the subsequent stramash.
The fouling on Prentice continued unpunished and McGladrigan repeated his earlier antics, again without any card being shown.
Petershill, who needed a win to keep alive their own promotion hopes, went ahead when a fine run by Stuart McCann gave Chris Wilson the chance to shoot home.
A third goal came from Paul Callander almost on the half-time whistle and it was now obvious that the game was out of reach for Rangers.
After the break Rangers did make a big effort to get back into the game and Prentice, still a target for the Petershill defenders, just missed making contact with a good cross ball before he was taken off with a rib injury.
However there was only ever going to be one winner and further goals from Alex Cassells and Kevin Nicoll - who scored after a wrongly awarded corner - completed the scoring.
To round up a miserable day for Rangers, and to sum up the display from the referee, Paul McBride was shown a second yellow card near the end with the official not showing the mandatory red until his attention was drawn to it.
Only wins in the remaining two games for Kilsyth will do, starting with tonight’s game at Blantyre Victoria, kick-off 7.15pm.