Boston City FC’s slim National Premier Soccer League playoff aspirations took a hit on Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss away to defending NPSL champions Elm City Express.

The Lions trailed 2-0 at halftime despite having opened brightly, created chances and dictated the early pattern of play and came away empty-handed. With a record of one win, two draws and four defeats, claiming a top four place for a postseason berth looks unlikely for the first time in three seasons, if not yet mathematically impossible.

Coach Palhinha’s side must beat bottom of the table Seacoast United Mariners this Saturday at Brother Gilbert Stadium in Malden, kickoff 7pm. They must also win at Kingston Stockade and take three points from a July 8 home clash with Greater Lowell and hope other results go their way.

The Lions might have led early as Pedro Silva had a shot saved after three minutes and Homero Morais saw his low drive parried and gathered at the second attempt by keeper Oscar Acosta.

Morais limped off injured after only nine minutes and was replaced by Yaw Addow and Boston City piled on the early pressure with a clear chance coming after 13 minutes. Isaac Addai chased a long ball played through from the back and passed inside to Rigoberto Jimenez whose lay off was fired just over the cross bar by Silva.

Jimenez screwed a finish wide after Addai had tricked his way to the bye line in the 19th minute, then as Elm City came into the game a minute later, Jacob Wagmeister denied Lucas Gabriel Sousa and also blocked the rebound.

With 22 minutes played, the Express took the lead when just after missing the target, Shaquille Saunchez broke towards goal and fired beyond Wagmeister, tucking his finish inside the far post.

Ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Wagmeister raced from his goal to chase a through ball and brought down scorer Saunchez inside the 18-yard box. Sousa stepped up and rooted the keeper to the spot with his coolly converted penalty kick.

Christopher Carneiro drove a shot across the face of goal three minutes into the second half, but ten minutes later it was Boston City who found the target to halve the deficit. Avner Alves played the ball out wide when Elm City failed to clear a corner, Marcelo Cunha delivered a probing cross and Mike Semido headed past his own keeper for an own goal.

Yaw Addow was denied at the near post, Wagmeister tipped a fierce drive from Carneiro over the bar at the other end, Jimenez saw a chance cleared agonizingly off the line and Santi Cardona fired too high for the Lions, but it was not to be their night.