THE Basingstoke Bison title hopes suffered another setback, as they lost to the Bracknell Bees 4-2 on Sunday night.
An even opening 20 minutes saw no goals, as both sides killed off powerplays.
The Herd broke the deadlock as Kurt Reynolds scored with a nice strike from the blue line at 26:02.
The Bees equalised when former Bison forward Chris Wiggins fired home the first goal in 174 minutes that Dean Skinns had conceded against Bracknell this season, following his double shut-out against the Berkshire outfit earlier in the season.
The home side then took the lead, as James Galazzi was able to set-up Grant Rounding to score from close range at 35:43.
The Bison had the better of the start of the final period, as they tried to level the game, but the Bees made it 3-1 as Matt Foord found a way past man-of-the-match Skinns at 47:52.
The Herd hit back almost immediately as 17 seconds later, Doug Sheppard turned provider for Aaron Connolly to get the Bison right back into the contest.
The Herd were then given a great chance to equalise as Shaun Thompson departed for tripping in the final five minutes.
The Bison piled on the pressure with the extra man, but Alex Mettam stood tall and then the Herd’s hopes suffered a bitter blow as Ciaran Long picked up a roughing at 57:20.
This meant the visitors were unable to pull their goalie until the final seconds.
They finally got Skinns to the bench with 30 seconds left, but the move back fired as Bees man-of-the-match Wiggins scored into the empty net to seal the win with six seconds left on the clock.
The only silver lining for the Bison was that league leaders the Manchester Phoenix also lost on Sunday night.
So the sides are still locked together at the top-of-the-table, but the Phoenix have played three games fewer.
The Herd are next in action on Saturday night at Coventry, when they face the Milton Keynes Lightning.
Then on Sunday they entertain the Slough Jets at the Basingstoke Arena.