Nathan Mulligan’s late penalty wasn’t enough to prevent Stockton Town falling to a 2-1 defeat at North East rivals Dunston.
Mulligan’s spot kick gave the Anchors belief with five minutes to play as they pushed to earn a point in the final stages, however it was the hosts who earned all three points.
Dunston raced into a two-goal lead within the opening quarter of an hour, with Michael Fowler finding the net and an Lewis King diverting into his own net inside the first 15 minutes.
The Anchors pushed in the second half as they looked to get back into the game, but have fallen to back-to-back league defeats for just the second time this season.
Michael Dunwell named two changes to the side which lost out to Pontefract a week ago, with Nathan Mulligan and Jonathan Franks entering the starting line-up in place of Mikey Roberts and Nathan Steel.
The Anchors had the first effort towards goal as Kev Hayes headed wide from Nathan Mulligan’s whipped free kick.
Dunston took the lead just after the five minute mark as Fowler broke through Stockton’s offside trap to slot past Callum Roberts.
Tom Portas fizzed a strike at goal from Mulligan’s cleared corner, his goal-bound effort was blocked in a crowd of bodies.
The hosts doubled their lead on 15 minutes as King headed Craig Baxter’s cross into his own net.
Mulligan forced a great save from Liam Connell with a 20-yard free kick, with Hayes brought down on the edge of the box.
Roberts produced an outstanding save to deny Jack Elliott when Dunston were three on one on the Anchors goal, before making another save moments later.
Dunston had the ball in the net through Fowler when he raced through one on one, the offside flag going up to deny the home striker.
Fowler came close to adding a third for the hosts with a curling effort that hit the post, before Jack Stafford blazed the rebound high over the bar.
Elliott had the ball in the net early in the second half but the linesman’s flag went up for offside as the wide man ran through.
Dale Mulligan, who was subbed on as a makeshift striker late on, was a physical presence up front and got a shot away which went wide.
Dunston continued to look dangerous on the counter attack with Elliott forcing a save from Roberts before Fowler blasted over from close range.
Fowler and Elliott again had shots on goal before the Anchors were awarded a spot kick as Nathan Mulligan was felled inside the Dunston penalty box.
Mulligan stepped up and slotted his spot kick home to give the Anchors renewed belief of claiming a point.
Stockton are next in action for their first home game in over a month as they welcome Sheffield to the MAP Group UK Stadium.
Dunston: Connell, Baxter, Scott, Stafford, Swailes, Hall, Thear (Mouanda, 67), Pearson, Fowler, Coulson, Elliott (Mason, 84)
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Galbraith, Clarke
Stockton Town: C.Roberts, King, McWilliams, Portas (D.Mulligan, 68), Nicholson, Coulthard, Hayes, Henry, N.Mulligan, Cooke, Franks (A.Conway, 58)
Subs Not Used: Steel, Hall, McDonald
Goals: 1-0, 6 min, Fowler; 2-0, 15 min, King (O/G), 2-1, 86 min, N.Mulligan (Pen).
Referee: Martin Conroy
Assistants: Callum Black and Bernard Law
Words: Jamie Beattie
Photo: Harry Cook