Kidsgrove Athletic Manager Peter Ward has all but conceded the league title, after his side went down 2-0 to leaders Belper at the Seddon Stadium.
“We had enough chances to get something in the second half, but weren’t good enough in the first and it has cost us,” he said.
“If we were going to win the league, tonight was a must win game, but I see the playoffs as a more realistic goal now. If Barwell do drop points though, hopefully we can capitalise.”
In a tight encounter it was Kidsgrove who had the first effort of meaning early on, as Sam Hall sent a rasping shot wide from long range.
Barwell thought they had taken the lead on 24 minutes, but Luke Barlone’s header was ruled out for offside.
After a long period of possession the visitors did take the lead just before the half hour mark, as Jai Stanley found Kevin Charley who struck into the top corner on the half volley from the edge of the box.
The lead was doubled in first half stoppage time, as Stanley’s corner from the right was steered home at the back post by Francind Francis.
It could have 3-0 early in the second half as Scott Hadland’s swerving shot was pushed away by Kidsgrove keeper Steve Hodgson.
Barwell were reduced to ten men on 55 minutes, as Jamie Towers was shown a straight red card for elbowing Nick Ward in an aerial challenge.
Karl Charlton should have reduced the arrears for Grove with just under 15 minutes left, but he headed over Nick Ward’s flick from Tim Sanders’ freekick.
Sanders was again the provider as Grove wasted another golden chance soon after, as sub Matt Haddrell headed wide from his cross from the left.
Kidsgrove Athletic team: Hodgson, Smith, Dove, Ward, Johnson, Charlton, Matranga, Hall, Walker, Shotton, Sanders.
Subs: Haddrell, Beasley, Morris, Bridge, Schwarz.
Barwell team: Castle, Lower, Wykes, Guy Sanders, Francis, Stanley, Towers, Hadland, Barlone, Charley, Rickards.
Subs: Dutton, Letts, Hair, Ginnelly.
Man of the Match: Francind Francis – Gave nothing away in the air or on the deck to Kidsgrove forwards all night, and chipped in with vital second goal before half time.