GORNAL Athletic suffered a crushing defeat against promotion rivals Sporting Khalsa.

The Peacocks travelled away last Saturday without centre back pairing Ross Love and Matt Vaughan and got punished by second-placed Khalsa, who are now managed by former boss Ian Rowe.

The defeat is an early set-back for Andy Wyton's side who remain in third place but are now seven points behind leaders AFC Bridgnorth.

Sporting Khalsa dominated proceedings and opened the scoring on 11 minutes when former Gornal man Marvin Nisbett reacted well to prod home.

Nicky Campbell should have doubled the lead on 23 minutes, finding himself one on one with the goalkeeper only for Rich Kennedy to pull off the first of a series of excellent saves.

Just seconds later, however, Mensah Kinch was brought down in the area by Carl Martin and Tim Jackson lashed home the spot-kick.

Kennedy produced the save of the match on 41 minutes to deny Craig Bannister, diving to tip over a rocket of a shot that was destined for the roof of the net.

The second half saw Bannister again in the thick of the action and, once again, frustrated by the efforts of Kennedy.

Gornal retained possession well but were unable to create anything resembling a clear-cut opportunity in a second half low on efforts on goal.

Kennedy produced another brilliant save on 83 minutes, diving to the near post to stop a goal-bound drive by Mike Perks.

But deep into stoppage time a loose throw in by Gornal’s Carl Martin was miscontrolled by Steve Edmonds, enabling Randy Davis to whip in a brilliant cross to find the head of fellow substitute Chris Rabone.

Gornal will look to bounce back away at Cradley Town tonight and at home to Pegasus Juniors this Saturday.