Ten-man North Shields’ run of 15 consecutive league wins came to an end on Saturday when they lost at Shildon.
Michael McKeown received a second yellow after giving away a penalty which Matthew Robson converted just before half-time.
Adam Burnicle then doubled the hosts’ lead in the 81st minute to condemn a sorry Robins to defeat.
It was an off day but manager Jon McDonald and his men will look to put the defeat behind them and focus on bouncing back at West Allotment on Friday night.
Title rivals South Shields and Morpeth Town are now within reach of the league leaders, though McDonald’s side are still in control of their own destiny - win their four remaining league games and they will be champions.
Having stolen an early goal in the previous fixture against Shildon a few weeks ago, Shields were close to doing the same again as only the post denied Dan Wilson and his side an eighth-minute lead.
But Wilson’s opportunity was the closest Shields came to a goal all game. It was clear the Robins were not at the races from the start as they struggled in possession, and when given the chances on the counter-attack, the final ball was often lacking.
Shildon were comfortable in possession and carried a constant threat despite the lack of opportunities on Kyle Hayes’ goal in the first half.
The Robins would have been happy to go into the break with the game level, but disaster struck in the 45th minute. McKeown, who had been booked in the 22nd minute for a late challenge, received a second yellow after he gave away a penalty. Robson sent Hayes the wrong way from the spot.
The Railwaymen striker Micky Rae then squandered a chance seconds later when through on goal but he shot wide. With a man down and a goal down, it was also going to be a struggle for the Robins against the reigning Northern League champions.
As Shields dug deep, Wilson was often isolated up top by himself. And the stunning comeback against Marske United in midweek in the League Cup semi-final with ten men was telling.
Changes were made, but Burnicle was found in behind in the 81st minute and he buried the ball into the bottom corner to kill the game off.