Preston Hockey Club men’s 1sts’ miserable run continued with an 8-1 defeat at Durham University.
The Whites have stuttered in form since the winter break.
Now, rather than looking ahead towards a fourth-placed finish, they find themselves looking over their shoulders, bidding to secure National League hockey next season.
Preston’s visit to Durham University is a game which they will be in a hurry to forget.
Despite carrying a couple of injuries, Preston were no match for the student outfit who outran and outclassed their visitors.
The only consolation was a Ben Heywood goal in their heavy defeat.
Their previous outing had seen Preston travel to Doncaster in search of what would have been only a second league victory on the road this season.
However, The Whites went down 3-2 after what turned out to be an entertaining game.
The first half was characterised by errors and misplaced passes from both sides.
However, it was the Yorkshire side who were to make the most of their opportunities.
Two goals from short-corners and a lapse in concentration from Preston for a soft third cost them dear.
Preston’s only reply was a well worked goal which was deflected home by Dave Greenough.
The half-time score was 3-1, but Preston were not at their best.
And while the second half lacked as many goals, it more than made up for it in fast, entertaining hockey.
Preston applied a high press for the whole second period of play, and forced many mistakes from Doncaster, who suffered four separate sin-binnings.
Despite overwhelming pressure, Doncaster stood strong, until on 62 minutes David Sullivan was fouled by the hosts’ full-back in the D.
The resultant penalty flick award was probably a little fortunate for Preston.
But to add to Doncaster’s woes, their goalkeeper was dismissed for two minutes for verbal dissent. This made the penalty stroke all the easier for James Sutcliffe, who made the scoreline 3-2.
Preston toiled and pressed hard, creating short-corner opportunities which failed to find the back of the net.
The Whites now turn their attentions to the last three games, when they face two of the bottom three sides.
A win this weekend at home to Wakefield will secure another year in the Conference North division.
Head coach Peter Nicholson said: “It’s a shame the way the results have turned out in 2016, especially after the vast improvement and growth made before Christmas.
“We will train well again this week and make sure we are prepared for the visit of Wakefield.”