Newton Aycliffe conceded three goals in the last five minutes of a nightmare Boxing Day derby defeat at Bishop Auckland.
The Newtonians led the game after forward Danny Earl notched his 12th goal of the season with a 62nd-minute penalty.
But ex-Shildon forward Andy Johnson bagged a dramatic late hat-trick as Allan Oliver’s side slumped to a second successive 3-1 loss following their identical defeat at home to Penrith last Wednesday.
And with relegation rivals Penrith and Newcastle Benfield both having their Boxing Day fixtures postponed, coupled with the bottom three (South Shields, Norton and Billingham Town) all losing, Aycliffe squandered an opportunity to further stretch the gap between them and the relegation trapdoor.
Instead, with Durham City winning at Consett, the Royal Blues slipped one place to 20th in the Ebac Northern League Division One table, although they remain five points clear of the danger zone.
Both sides had chances to open the scoring within seconds of the 18th minute. First, ex-Aycliffe striker Dale Jardine saw his flick cleared off the line by Sean Tarling before Jamie Risbrough released Fred Woodhouse into the area only for Peter Jeffries to divert wide with his legs.
Earl was thwarted by the outrushing Jeffries two minutes later, then Kris Hughes saw his 25-yard rebound blocked by the in-form ‘keeper before Scott Pocklinton did well to save Johnson’s shot as the game sparked into life.
A scramble from the ensuing corner resulted in Chris Lawson unbelievably hiting the post from a yard out before Pocklington smothered.
Lawson then missed a sitter in the 28th minute when he ghosted in to meet Dan Hawkins’ corner but volleyed off the bar and over from two yards out.
Aycliffe countered but Risbrough’s pull-back was struck wide of Josh Knox on the edge of the box.
Johnson’s curling effort missed by inches after a Steve Gibson error, and Gibson’s 44th-minute floated free-kick found Knox six yards out, but Jeffries superbly pushed his header against the bar.
Aycliffe won a penalty shortly after the hour-mark after Steve Salvin brought down Knox down in the area and Earl lashed his 12th of the season straight down the centre.
Substitute Sean Reay sent Earl through on goal in the 76th minute but Jeffries saved with his legs once more.
Newtonian Keiran Megran broke down the right in the 80th minute but his drag-back was blazed into the car park by Jardine.
But Bishop’s equaliser came five minutes later when Hawkins outstripped Gibson in the left channel and centred for Johnson to stroke home first time.
The home side were then awarded a penalty in the 87th minute after Darren Craddock was adjudged to handle the ball, and although Pocklington saved Johnson’s spot-kick, the rebound fell favourably to the striker who made no mistake second time around.
And Johnson completed his trick in the 91st minute when he capitalised on Craddock’s slip before bursting past both James Oliver and Pocklington to slot home Bishop’s third and round off an impressive late show.
Aycliffe: Pocklington, Gibson, Risbrough, Craddock, Oliver, Lambert (Reay, 68), Hughes (Owen, 78), Tarling, Knox, Woodhouse, Earl. Unused: Wood, Peck, Hinchley