Northampton Town were defeated 2-1 at home by Mansfield Town, as their play-off push took a dent at home.
The Cobblers would have looked for a good result against a Stags team in the table’s bottom 4 at kick-off and without an away win since New Year’s Day.
But Keith Curle’s side faced a difficult afternoon when Sam Hoskins conceded a penalty and was sent off inside the opening ten minutes. Danny Rose then scored the penalty to cap off a miserable moment for the hosts.
Willen Tomlinson then doubled the away side’s advantage in the second half. Northampton did grab a goal in the fifth minute of added time through Harry Smith but by then the game was lost.
The Cobblers drop one place to 7th in the table after their defeat and a win for Colchester at Carlisle, and are in the play-offs by 1 point to Port Vale after the Staffordshire club drew at Cheltenham.
Northampton had started brightly enough against Mansfield, with Nicky Adams saw a free-kick tipped over by Aidan Stone.
But in the 10th minute, things deteriorated quickly for the hosts. Hoskins was caught in possession just inside his own half and reacted by fouling Harry Charsley in the box, earning him a straight red card. Rose then beat Steve Arnold to give the visitors the lead.
Following the penalty, there had been a momentary confrontation between Rose and home defender Charlie Goode, which set the tone for an bad tempered first half.
In amidst various running battles, the game was fairly even. The closest the home side came was through Vadaine Oliver, who saw an overhead kick fling just wide.
At the other end, Arnold showed his worth with two quickfire saves to keep out Rose and Charsley.
In the second period, Smith and Goode saw headers land off target, before Mansfield’s Tomlinson saw an attempt strike the bar on its way out.
Northampton still had attempts to press and find a way back, and did come close when sub Lloyd Jones and Scott Wharton both saw efforts tipped wide by Stone.
But Mansfield still threatened on the break and moments after CJ Hamilton hit the side-netting, the away side had a second. The away side won the ball back and set up a 3-on-1 break. Leading the charge was Tomlinson, who slotted past Arnold.
Smith headed in an Adams cross in the fifth minute of six added on, but by the game was up.