David Jeffrey suffered his first defeat as Ballymena United manager as his side went down to a chastening 4-1 loss at Warrenpoint Town.
Stephen Murray scored a hat-trick as the Sky Blues’ hopes of securing a European play-off place by finishing in seventh spot in the Danske Bank Premiership suffered a serious setback at Milltown.
United had looked well placed to stretch their unbeaten six-game streak when Willie Faulkner put them ahead after a quick break which culminated in the winger lobbing Warrenpoint keeper Johnny Parr.
But Murray equalised early in the second half and then put the border side ahead from the penalty spot after Ballymena defender Michael Ruddy had been red-carded for bringing down the striker.
Johnny McMurray put the game beyond United with Warrenpoint’s third goal on 72 minutes and Murray completed his hat-trick two minutes later to complete a miserable night for United.
The defeat, coupled with Dungannon’s late win over Ballinamallard, sees United drop back to eighth spot in the table, two points behind the Tyrone side with only two games left.
Ballymena United: Blayney, Ervin, McVey, Taylor, Ruddy, T Kane, Frazer (sub Hanley 60), Jenkins, Cushley (sub Millar 82), Faulkner, Henderson. Subs (not used): Nelson, McNally, E Kane.