Frustrated Mansfield suffered another narrow defeat, this time by just three points, to slide into the bottom three of the National League, Midlands 3 East (North) division.
The blue-and-whites were desperate for a victory after a second half of the season that has not gone to plan. But instead, they were beaten 24-21 by fifth-placed Kesteven.
Now they must win at least one of their remaining two fixtures, beginning at home to fellow strugglers Tupton this Saturday, to ensure they stave off shock relegation.
Head coach Wayne Robinson said: “I thought we played well for large parts of the Kesteven game, and dominated the second half completely.
“But we have to turn that pressure into points. A lapse in concentration at the end cost us dearly.”
That lapse came with Mansfield leading 21-19. Despite missing a penalty, they should have been able to regain possession from the 22-metre restart and close out the game. But they lost the ball and tired bodies failed to make the necessary tackles.
For perhaps the only time in the second half, Kesteven made a foray into the Mansfield 22 and they were clinical with their chance, scoring the winning try.
The hosts had started the game with a penalty by fly-half Taran Elms, but they soon found themselves 12-3 down.
A fightback to lead 13-12, thanks to a try from Mark Wallace, was followed by another dip as they trailed 19-13 at half-time. But another recovery was topped by a Conway Evans try.