Below-par Cheltenham Town suffered a rare defeat on the road after Liam McAlinden's first half goal settled this one in Morecambe.
The former Robin transformed the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season as a second half substitute and supplied the decisive moment at the Manzuma Stadium, scoring the only goal of the game after 20 minutes.
Michael Duff's side turned in a much improvement after the break and created a string of chances to salvage a point but they couldn't find a way past a resolute defence, drawing a blank on this occasion.
As a result they drop to second tonight with a game in hand on the new leaders Cambridge United, with plenty of twists and turns in store as the season draws to a dramatic conclusion.
The manager was happy with the performance, if not the result after the match and emphasised the importance of unity ahead of the final nine matches.
"We've conceded one shot on target against a team with a good home record," he said.
"We had over 20 shots but it just wouldn't go in today.
"We had a poor start to the game and the first 15 minutes wasn't good enough but after that I thought we were the better team.
"We definitely deserved something from the game."
Duff made one change here, enforced by Josh Griffith's involvement with England Under-21s. Scott Flinders returned to the side for the first time since November at Carlisle United. Alex Addai was named on the bench at the expense of Tom Chamberlain.
The home side was the better of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, although there was an early opening for Liam Sercombe, who blasted wide after some promising play by Callum Wright down the right.
But McAlinden struck after 20 minutes, racing onto a threaded ball before beating Flinders with a low effort from 18 yards.
John O'Sullivan then fired over and John O'Sullivan had one in the back of the net in the moments after the goal, but it was ruled out for offside.
There were a couple of decent moves to encourage Duff. First Alfie May found Sercombe down the left, but his cross to Sam Smith was deflected wide. Freestone headed a foot over from the resulting corner kick.
Then Sercombe capped a move with an effort from 20 yards, but the midfielder lost his footing as he wound up to shoot and put it wide. He saw two more efforts cleared on the stroke of half-time.
Duff's men played with far more purpose after the break and forced Kyle Letheren into his first meaningful save on the hour, Callum Wight with the effort from 20 yards that almost caught out the Morecambe number one at his near post.
Wright vollied over a moment later after a pinpoint delivery from the right by Finn Azaz, a 50th minute replacement for Matty Blair who picked up an ankle injury.
Next Sam Smith met Chris Hussey's cross with a firm enough header but it was held by Letheren.
Another long ranger by Sercombe in the closing stages trickled wide while a late effort by Smith on the turn fizzed past the right post, but in the end there was no way through and suffered just their fifth reverse on the road this term.
MORECAMBE (4-3-3): Letheren; Mellor, Davis (Hendrie 68), Lavelle (c), Gibson; O'Sullivan (Pringle 90), Diagouraga, Wildig; Stockton, McAlinden (Cooney 66). Subs not used: Halstead (Gk), Hendrie, Denny, Price.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Flinders; Long, Tozer (c), Freestone (Vassilev 83); Blair (Azaz 50), Wright (Williams 78), Thomas, Sercombe, Hussey; Smith, May (Chapman 83). Subs not used: Harris (Gk), Addai, Horton.
REFEREE: M Edwards