There was no pre-festive cheer for either Sheffield FC or Stocksbridge Park Steels as the pair fell to defeats against Evo-Stik South Division’s top two.
Andy Kiwomya’s side were beaten 2-0 by leaders Stafford Rangers as the visitors maintained their nine-point cushion at the top of the table, and Stocksbridge lost out 2-1 at Coalville Town as the hosts kept the pressure on the leaders.
Sheffield’s conquerers have now suffered just one defeat in 22 league outings, suggesting Rangers will take some stopping if their second half of the campaign continues in similar fashion.
Sheffield, however, did give a good account of themselves in front of their biggest home crowd of the season, although Kiwomya might well feel they once again contributed to their own downfall.
Club made a bright start and might well had been in front, but Glyn Cotton was snuffed out.
Benny Igi-Ehon was denied by a brilliant point blank save, and he did have the ball in the net knocking in the rebound after Anton Foster’s shot had been saved - but the goal was chalked off by a tight offside decision.
Stafford began to get to grips with the game and, four minutes from the interval, Stafford snatched the lead through Josh Craddock.
It took just seven minutes of the second half for Rangers to double the lead, Christian Dacres with the easiest of tap-ins.
There was a let off for Sheffield moments later when a mistake let Marvin Robinson in on goal, but his shot cannoned off the post.
Club came close to setting up a grandstand finish with a powerful drive from substitute Shaq McKenzie that was heading for the top corner - until the Rangers ‘keeper tipped it over the crossbar at full stretch.
Meanwhile Steels, who gave a debut to new signing Richard Tootle at full back, fell behind after just six minutes at Coalville when Aaron Hooton scored at the second attempt.
Steels suffered a huge blow when they lost striker Scott Ruthven to injury after just 20 minutes. But Stocksbridge were back on level terms on 35 minutes as Rory Coleman’s teasing cross was turned into his own net by a defender.
The joy was short lived as Coalville regained the lead six minutes later with Hooton again on target.
Steels will feel hard done by not to have come away with a point after creating the better chances in the second half, Adam Hinchliffe curling a delightful free-kick just over the bar before Gregory saw his header pushed round the post.
Then in stoppage time Stocksbridge went even closer still when David Reay went up for a corner, and the goalkeeper sent a header against the crossbar.
Frickley Athletic picked up a good point ,coming from behind to draw 1-1 at play-off chasing Halesown Town, their third such result in the last four league games.
Nathaniel Waite with a close rage header had given the hosts 48th minute lead but substitute Chris Wood made an instant impact playing in Brad Grayson to thump home the equaliser 10 minutes from time.
Matlock Town returned to winning ways in style, beating relegation-threatened Colwyn Bay 4-1 away to end a run of four defeats on the spin.
Buxton came from behind to give their play-off hopes a push with a 4-1 win against Mickleover Sports at the Silverlands.
Liam Hardy’s hat-trick inspired the win. He sealed his treble late on, taking his tally to 22 for the season.
Buxton were reduced to ten men on 67 minutes when Ashley Burbeary was sent off for handball inside the area.
But Zeph Thomas’s penalty was superbly saved by by Phil Barnes.