Northampton Town’s hopes of a play-off finish took a severe dent as they were beaten 2-1 at home by 10 man Port Vale.
Results elsewhere meant Northampton would’ve moved within six points of the play-offs with a win, and they started on the front foot when Sam Hoskins scored inside the opening five minutes.
Port Vale also had a player sent off in the opening half as captain Leon Legge was shown a straight red as a last man foul.
But the visitors hit back, with David Worrall striking an equaliser within minutes of Legge’s dismissal, before a second half penalty from substitute Tom Pope won it for the visitors.
Back-to-back defeats for Northampton means they drop to 14 points in the table, and they are now 9 points from Exeter in the final play-off place with six matches of the League 2 season still to play.
A reshuffled Cobblers side had pressed and struck early, as Hoskins tapped in the rebound after an initial Charlie Goode header was saved.
Northampton pressed in the first half, with Aaron Pierre having a shot deflected wide, and Hoskins and Jack Bridge snatched efforts wide.
Things looked to be going further the way of the home side when the visitors were reduced to 10, as Legge was sent off for hauling down Andy Williams.
But Port Vale responded to that setback by equalising, as Worrall broke free then placed a shot beyond David Cornell.
A lively second half saw both sides fail to make the most of promising moments, before Vale had a great chance to take the lead, as Goode bundled over Christian Montano, and from 12 yards, substitute Pope converted.
Northampton failed to get back into the game after that, and fell to a disappointing loss.