Garstang’s penultimate away game of the season saw them beaten 4-1 by Prestwich Heys on Saturday.
Riversiders boss Lee Baker had to face another player availability headache with Jake Salisbury, Rob Walker and Ric Coar unavailable, Cameron Ross (broken nose) injured and Jonny Hothersall only fit enough to make the bench.
However, it was a very poor display by Garstang’s usually high standards with untidy distribution from the back, sloppy passing across all areas of the pitch and some poor finishing.
Notwithstanding this, the scoreline did not reflect the actual game which hinged on a number of key incidents which didn’t go Garstang’s way.
The home side took an early lead when Will Shawcross headed home despite appearing to be yards offside.
Almost immediately, Garstang missed a golden chance to equalise when Billy McKenna shot over the bar from four yards.
Both teams were forced into a change when the home keeper and Alan Coar collided accidentally in going for the ball.
The Prestwich keeper suffered facial injuries, while the Coar suffered a serious head wound that required hospital treatment and saw him replaced by Andrew Murphy.
Prestwich doubled their lead when Shawcross netted his second of the day but Garstang halved their deficit just before half-time as Josh Westwood headed home Tom Entwisle’s corner.
Trailing 2-1 at half-time, Garstang were much livelier at the start of the second half and Murphy should have scored, only to head wide from four yards.
However, another controversial decision killed the game on 81 minutes when Garstang keeper Will Kitchen came out of his goal to smother an effort.
A Prestwich player collided with Kitchen in his follow through and, to everyone’s surprise, the referee deemed it a foul and awarded a penalty.
Kitchen was also cautioned and then beaten from the spot by Max White to make the score 3-1.
As Garstang threw everything forward, the home side scored a fourth on 88 minutes as Shawcross completed his hat-trick.
The game’s final chance fell to Hothersall who shot straight at the stand-in keeper when put clean through to cap a disappointing day.
Garstang’s reserves drew 2-2 with Dalton United on Saturday with goals from Matthew Seed and Jake Baldwin.