Aldershot Town pressed the self-destruct button once again as their hopes of avoiding a second straight relegation suffered another huge setback on Tuesday night.
Leading through Josh Scott's 32nd-minute header, the Shots looked well on course to record only a second win in 12 matches to put the pressure back on their Skrill Premier drop rivals.
But after striker Brett Williams saw red for a needless lunge on Gateshead's JJ O'Donnell eight minutes into the second half, they were suddenly up against it and goals from Jack Lester and James Marwood handed the Heed a play-off boost while heaping more pressure on manager Andy Scott.
Naturally, the defeat sparked angry scenes afterwards with Scott himself confronted by furious individuals amid boos ringing from some sections of the ESS Stadium, further frustrated by Chester's 2-0 victory over Tamworth which ensured the Shots slipped four points adrift of safety.
In truth, it had an uncomfortable feel of deja vu from 12 months ago, but like the Football League dogfight which endured similar ups and downs, the boss was remaining positive and angrily refuted any claims of his players lacking desire.
"Every player gave it everything they've got," Scott said. "They're out on their feet in there, we've got a lot of tired bodies.
"The game's turned on the sending off, it's as simple as that. Once we worked out their system and got the goal we didn't mind them playing in front of us.
"We also had a goal disallowed and I felt we were reasonably comfortable.
"Brett then gets sent off and the game changes. The first goal is a throw-in to us, they take it off us and score. These things seem to be conspiring against us at the moment.
"That said, I still thought we were comfortable with 10 men, they didn't really create anything until the goal.
"It's a bad night for us. We've lost the game and lost two centre forwards tonight.
"We've got to make sure we bring some bodies in to make sure we've got enough legs for another important game against Hyde on Saturday.
Gateshead started the day a point off a play-off place and certainly started as if they had a point to prove, knocking the ball around swiftly and taking the game to their hosts from the off.
But for all their early possession, they never really threatened Glenn Morris' goal, the exception being Craig Baxter's 25-yard free kick which stung the keeper's palms.
Indeed, Aldershot soon began to settle and even after losing Bradley Bubb to a hamstring injury on 19 minutes, Scott's men were looking the most likely with Mark Molesley – one of four changes from Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Braintree – screwing their best effort wide from 20 yards.
That was, however, until the 32nd minute when Shots made the breakthrough. Jordan Roberts won a free kick wide on the left, Solomon Taiwo fizzed the ball into the near post and Scott reacted first to bury a thumping header into the roof of the net.
And it was almost 2-0 nine minutes later, a fine move involving Scott and Craig Stanley resulted in the skipper delicately curling a ball to the far post but Roberts sweetly volleyed home into the corner from an offside position.
So often this season though the Shots have proved to be masters of their own downfall and on 53 minutes they self-destructed yet again.
Williams flew needlessly into a tackle on O'Donnell right out on the touchline by the incensed visiting supporters, and referee Declan Ford had no hesitation in brandishing a straight red card.
Then, three minutes later it came home to roost. James Marwood picked up the ball wide on the left and angled a pass into the feet of Lester, who turned inside Chris Barker before finding the far corner of the net with a typically exquisite finish.
Army official Ford was a busy man as the tackles flew in, but Shots were not out of it yet, working hard to press their hosts with Taiwo driving their best chance wide from 20 yards.
But just when it looked as though they would at least hold on for a point, disaster struck again.
Molesley gave away another free kick out on the right, O'Donnell whipped the ball in, the Shots failed to clear, John Oster hooked the ball back into the danger area and Marwood was on hand to rifle into the roof of the net to the delight of the 29 die-hards who had made the 600-mile round trip from the north east.
Desperate Shots piled forward in the latter stages with substitute Martin Rowlands twice firing wide, but it was not to be and a fifth home defeat was confirmed.
Next up for the Shots is the visit of already-relegated Hyde on Saturday – thoughts of anything less than three points then are simply inconceivable.
Aldershot: Morris; Gibbs, Oastler, Barker, Tonkin; Molesley, Stanley, Taiwo (Mekki 84), Roberts (Rowlands 79); Williams, Bubb. (Scott 19) Subs: Webster, Martin.
Ref: Declan Ford. Att: 1,358 (29).