Jim O'Brien's goal proved to be a mere consolation as we were beaten 3-1 by Crewe Alexandra at Meadow Lane.
The Scottish midfielder came off the bench to score - but we were already 3-0 down following goals from Mickey Demetriou and Josh Austerfield, plus an Elliott Nevitt penalty.
Stuart Maynard made one change to the side that were narrowly beaten at Wrexham the previous weekend as Lewis Macari replaced Aaron Nemane at right back, with the winger taking his place on the bench along with new signing Alassana Jatta.
We made a bright start to the game and claimed the first shot on target on four minutes, Macari volleying a half-cleared corner goalwards and seeing it comfortably held by Harvey Davies.
But the visitors were ahead following their first attack of the game a minute later, catching us out with a short corner and crossing the ball for Demetriou to glance home with his head.
It was so nearly two moments after the restart as Nevitt capitalised on a misplaced pass and cut on to his right foot inside our area. Aden Baldwin did brilliantly to divert his shot over the bar.
Maynard switched to a back three shortly afterwards and it helped settle us down, with Robertson producing a delightful turn and seeing his well-struck 25-yard effort pushed away by Davies.
But, shortly afterwards, a mix-up between Baldwin and John Bostock saw the two collide when trying to deal with a long ball forward. This allowed Nevitt to progress into the area and round Ashby-Hammond, going down under his attempted challenge. After a long pause, the referee deemed there to have been contact before pointing to the spot. Nevitt duly converted.
Nemane replaced Jaden Warner in a tactical switch midway through the half and, as the break approached, we mounted pressure on the Alex goal with Macaulay Langstaff unable to head Kyle Cameron’s deft cross beyond Davies.
And, after McGoldrick had skewed a volley wide inside the area, two chances presented themselves to us in quick succession as Langstaff couldn’t get his head on Jones’ cross before Nemane cut the ball on to his left and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.
We didn’t get the start to the second half we wanted as, within four minutes, David McGoldrick was forced off the field with a dead leg sustained in the first half.
That led to a debut for Jatta, who made a good impact but was unable to help us create the clear-cut chances we needed to haul ourselves back into the game.
He was joined on the field by Adam Chicksen, Sam Austin and O’Brien, who replaced Cameron, Robertson and Bostock on 69 minutes.
But the hill we had to climb was transformed into a mountain on 77 minutes as Crewe turned over possession and found a third goal as Austerfield’s low, 25-yard effort found the bottom corner.
We produced a response six minutes later as O’Brien bounced a 20-yard shot down into the turf and watched on as Davies fumbled it into his net.
And faint hopes of a comeback remained as we continued to pin the visitors back heading into eight minutes of added time.
But they were extinguished by Davies who made an excellent save to keep Austin’s near post effort out, before seeing one of his defenders do well to head Austin’s return ball behind when it looked like Jatta was set to nod it home on the line.
We didn’t give up, as evidenced by Jones dipping a 35-yard effort wide at the death, but 3-1 was how it ended.
STARTING XI: Ashby-Hammond; Cameron (Chicksen 69'), Baldwin, Warner (Nemane 27'), Macari; Robertson (O'Brien 69'), Bostock (Austin 69'); Crowley, Jones, Langstaff; McGoldrick (Jatta 49')
SUBS: Stone, Rawlinson
BOOKINGS: Bostock 53', Langstaff 80', Jatta 90'