Whitley Warriors lost out to fellow play-off contenders Solihull Barons on Sunday evening in a road game.
The visitors were short in defence as Dan Pye and Joe Stamp were unable to make the trip to the Midlands for the NIHL North Division 1 contest.
The opening goal came seven minutes in when Baron’s Andrew Whitehouse fired home,
But Warriors were only in arrears for 24 seconds as Stu Tomlinson quickly found the back of the net for the visitors.
Solihull were able to regain the lead towards the end of the opening period thanks to a strike from Richard Slater.
They increased their lead to 3-1 shortly into the second period when Ryan Selwood’s effort got the better of Warriors netminder Richie Lawson.
Warriors created their own forward openings and skipper Dean Holland pulled a goal back with 26 minutes on the clock.
Holland was again involved when Warriors levelled the scores at 3-3 as he fed the puck to Harry Harley who got the better of Josh Nicholls in the home side’s net.
Solihull recaptured the lead before the second interval concluded when forward Thomas Soar grabbed his first goal of the evening.
The final period of action saw the home side tally a further three goals through Josh Bruce, Andrew Whitehouse and David Rodgers, which enabled Barons to skate to a 7-3 victory.
The result leaves Whitley in fourth place in the standings with 22 points with Barons just one place and two points ahead of them in the table.
Warriors crucially still occupy a play-off berth, and given the Tynesiders have a single point advantage over their nearest rivals for fourth spot, Sutton Sting, the race for the final play-off berth looks like it will go to the last game of the season.
Next weekend sees Warriors in action once again as David Longstaff’s side travel down to North Wales to face Deeside Dragons who currently sit at the foot of the NIHL North Division 1 standings.
A victory for Warriors against the Welsh outfit would be a huge boost to their play-offs hopes with only a handful of league games left in the 2016-17 campaign.