Notts County had Ben Barclay sent off as they threw away the lead in a 1-1 draw at Crawley that leaves them rooted to the bottom of Sky Bet League Two.
The Magpies went ahead through Craig Mackail-Smith early on, but Ashley Nathaniel-George levelled before half-time and Notts had defender Ben Barclay sent off early in the second period.
Notts boss Neal Ardley had said before the game that his side needed to win two of their three remaining games to stand a chance of preserving their League Two status.
And the Magpies got a vital early lift when a throw-in from Mitch Rose released Matt Tootle and his cross was headed in from eight yards by Mackail-Smith.
But Crawley responded after 20 minutes, when Nathaniel-George equalised with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Jon Stead should have hit the target for Notts when firing wastefully over and Rose was also off target following a defensive error.
The Magpies began the second half in purposeful fashion and defender Barclay headed over a Michael Doyle free kick after 50 minutes.
Barclay, on loan from Brighton, was shown a straight red card four minutes later for a two-footed foul on Crawley skipper Dannie Bulman.
Notts lived dangerously as Nathaniel-George had a shot parried before Reece Grego-Cox headed a Filipe Morais cross just wide.
Crawley had won their previous two games to ensure their own safety and top-scorer Ollie Palmer shot wide in the last minute as the scores finished level.
Notts are two points from safety with two games to play.