The contrasting seasons of leaders Selston and strugglers Clipstone in the Premier Division of the East Midlands Counties League were encapsulated when they clashed on Saturday.
Selston eased to a 3-1 victory that tightened their grip on the title race, while Clipstone sank to their 22nd defeat, had Brad Cox sent off and are still not mathematically safe from relegation.
The writing was on the wall for the Cobras in the first half when they fell 3-0 down to goals from Joe Butler, with a sweet half-volley, and two from Carl Moore, with a tap-in and a penalty for his 32nd of the season.
Clipstone did pull one back on 47 when a deep cross came by James Munson back off the bar for Sheldon McDonald to knock home. But their hopes of an unlikely fightback dimmed when Cox received a second yellow card for a foul in the 65th minute.
Cobras boss Steve Smith said: “The first half was one to forget. We struggled to find momentum going forward, losing the ball too easily, and defensively, we looked very shaky, lacking organisation.
“After some honest words at half-time, we showed a marked improvement. Unfortunately, the game focused on the referee, who allowed himself no time for analysis with the Brad Cox decision and got carried away with shouts from the Selston players.”