Oxford City Stars threw away a 3-0 lead as they crashed to a 5-3 defeat at home to Bristol Pitbulls in the English National League South Division 2 Cup.
It leaves Stars needing to beat Slough Jets this weekend to maintain their hopes of clinching top spot and a place in the next round.
It all got off to such a good start for the hosts when they went ahead after just four minutes.
Jacob Smith played in Josh Oliver, and he finished well past John Dibble to put Stars in front.
Darren Elliott and Joe Oliver spurned further opportunities, but Oxford ended the opening period on top.
They doubled their advantage soon after the restart when Joe Oliver’s shot flew into the net.
And when youngster Zach Dolphin netted at the far post after a great pass from Joe Edwards, a buoyant Stars led 3-0.
Bristol’s three minor penalties were all called within an eight-minute spell in the second period, but Oxford were unable to take advantage of the powerplays – something which would later hurt them.
The Pitbulls got on the board in the 34th minute when Olly Shone fed Jordan Smith, and he shot high in the corner to beat Stars keeper Ricky Young.
It proved a turning point, as the visitors began to play with more confidence and reduced the lead further when Adrian Smith made it 3-2 just 25 seconds before the end of the period.
Bristol began the final period on the front foot and quickly drew level when Alan Armour fired home from long range 50 seconds in.
Both teams attacked and looked for the winner, but it was the visitors who scored the all-important goal when Sam Shone netted.
And although Stars tried to find an equaliser, their fate was sealed when Adrian Smith scored his second of the game to make it 5-3 and leave them needing to beat Slough on Sunday.