Pontefract Collieries were unable to prevent long-time leaders Morpeth Town from clinching the Evo-Stik East Division title when they lost 3-1 at their Craik Park ground.
Second-placed Colls went into the game on an 11-match unbeaten run and looked set to continue that form as they took the lead, but they were unable to hold on to it and lost 3-1.
They now know they will have to win the play-offs if they are to gain a third successive promotion and with a place in them already sealed Ponte’s next aim is to secure home advantage in the semi-finals.
For that they have to finish second or third and will do so if they can win two of their last three games.
The task is not easy, however, as Colls host fifth-placed Sheffield this Saturday and travel to play another of their rivals, third-placed Ossett United, on Monday.
Pontefract’s last lingering outside hope of winning the championship went as they travelled to the north east to try to spoil Morpeth’s party, but could not quite manage it.
Up against opponents who have only lost twice at home all season it was Colls who were quickest out of the traps as Mikey Dunn beat keeper Dan Lowson with a volley after meeting a corner kick in only the second minute.
The stunned hosts struggled to get their game going and Nick Guest came closest to a second goal for Ponte with an ambitious volley that was saved by Lowson.
Morpeth finally carved out a good chance in the 38th minute and were level when David Carson and Joe Walton combined to set up Sean Taylor to score with a simple tap-in.
Dunn had a good opportunity to restore the visitors’ lead on half-time, but could only produce a weak effort that was saved by Lowson to leave the interval score level.
After the break Gavin Rothery curled a shot just over as Colls continued to give as good as they got, but in the 58th minute they failed fail to clear a corner and Joe Walton fired a low volley through a crowded area into the net.
Morpeth then sealed victory when Jack Foalle rounded keeper Ryan Musselwhite to make it 3-1.