Dulwich Hamlet look set to miss out on a place in the play-offs despite an injury-time Danny Mills goal securing a point against Tonbridge Angels at Champion Hill on Easter Monday.
With just four games left this season, and sides around them having fixtures in hand, Gavin Rose’s team had to win against the visitors, who are in the bottom half of the table with little left to play for.
But instead of racing out of the blocks in their attempt to cut the gap to the play-offs with a win, Dulwich produced a poor first half and were a goal down at the break.
Ibrahim Olutade gave Angels the lead before the hosts fought back and eventually equalised through Mills.
Dulwich are tenth in the National League South table, four points off the play-offs with three games left, but all the teams around them, including Havant & Waterlooville in seventh, have a game in hand.
Rose recalled strikers Mills and Chike Kandi for defenders Sanchez Ming and Tyrone Sterling which meant rejigging the set-up.
But despite those extra attackers, the home supporters in East Dulwich were given little to cheer in the opening 45 minutes.
Gio McGregor fired a free-kick over in the tenth minute and Doug Loft was off-target at the other end, the only real moments of threat from either side in the first half an hour.
Tonbridge went ahead in the 36th minute when Aaron Smith-Joseph showed good control to race to the byline and cross, and Olutade timed his run well to finish past goalkeeper Charlie Grainger.
The Hamlet were more proactive after the break as they tried to prevent their promotion hopes fading further. The hosts wanted a penalty when Tom Parkinson’s attempted clearance from Kandi’s cross hit his own hand before the ball was collected by Angels goalkeeper Jonathan Henly, but the appeals were in vain.
Dulwich almost gifted the visitors a second in the 54th minute when Michael Timlin’s mis-placed pass sent Olutade through on goal but Grainger rescued his side.
The dangerous Olutade then got between Jack Holland and Ronnie Vint and was brought down by the latter, the inevitable red card following for the Dulwich defender. Jamie Fielding’s resulting free-kick went just wide.
Jordan Green tried to respond and was just off-target after turning and shooting from 20 yards.
Joe Turner headed over from Tom Beere’s corner and then Grainger denied the former as the away side pushed for a second against the depleted hosts.
With 21 minutes left, Henly kept his side in front when he tipped over Quade Taylor’s header from McGregor’s free-kick.
Olutade headed over the crossbar from Ricky Modeste’s cross before Dulwich went down the other end and Green’s shot was blocked by Beere.
The flow of the game was disrupted by substitutions but Dulwich increased the pressure on their opponents by forcing a number of corners.
Kandi got free to cross for Mills whose header went over but Tonbridge were a threat on the break and Grainger saved from Beere to keep his side within touching distance.
Kandi and Mills combined again and this time the striker hit the target but Henly saved.
Just as the board went up to show five minutes of added-time, it was third time lucky for the Kandi-Mills routine as the latter headed a deep cross from the left past Henly.
With Dulwich pushing for an unlikely winner, Kandi was robbed of the ball just inside his own half to give Angels substitute James Taylor a chance, but he shot wide of the far post with Grainger struggling.
Dulwich travel to Chippenham Town this Saturday when anything other than a win could end their play-off hopes. Chippenham are a point and two places ahead of the Hamlet in eighth.
Kick-off at Hardenhuish Park is 3pm.
Hamlet: 3-4-1-2: Grainger; Taylor (Sterling, 79), Vint, Holland©; Green (Allassani, 79), McGregor, Higgs (Ming, 59), Timlin; Kandi; Mills, McQueen.
Unused substitutes: Sekajja, Dayton.