A first-half dismissal proved the turning point for Cambridge as they were beaten 4-0 at John Kerkhof Park by an in-form Albany United.
With barely a third of the game gone, Reds midfielder Marcelo Sosa was given a second yellow card, followed by his marching orders, when the game was tied 0-0.
From the resulting free-kick, Albany’s Marc Porter scored.
It was always going to be tough from there and Albany took advantage of having the extra man to outplay the home side for most of the remaining fixture.
Albany doubled their lead early in the second half when Damien Mosquera scored his first of the season.
He wasn’t content with that and completed his hat-trick shortly before the end of the game which both teams finished with 10 men after Albany saw a player dismissed for two yellow cards as well.
For Albany, who stay in third place on the table, it was a strong result before they travel to Napier next weekend for a quarter-final ISPS Handa Chatham Cup tie against Napier City Rovers.
With all the teams above Cambridge on the table winning, it means no changes on the table for the top five clubs but the fifth-placed Reds are now nine points behind the two promotion places and having played an extra fixture than their rivals.
Cambridge have only 15 points to play for so it appears this year’s hopes of promotion have been dashed by the latest set of results.
The Reds’ next game is on Saturday August 3 when the team travels to Onehunga Mangere in Auckland.
Lotto NRFL second division results
Friday July 26:
Metro FC 3, Onehunga Mangere 0
Saturday July 27:
Cambridge 0, Albany United 4
Oratia United 3, Unimount Bohemian Celtic 2
Claudelands Rovers 2, Greenhithe Catimba 1
Manurewa 7, Northland FC 0
Franklin United 3, Ngongotaha 0
Cambridge lost 1-0 to Albany United in the early game at John Kerkhof Park.