St Ives Town Ladies welcomed goalkeeper Kira Markwell back from a nine-month injury lay-off last Sunday.
The influential number one made her first appearance of the club's debut Eastern Region Premier Division season after recovering from a ruptured Achilles.
But there was no fairytale return in the fight against relegation as Darren Marjoram's side who were pipped 1-0 at Colney Heath.
Markwell was beaten just after the half-hour mark as the in-form hosts found the net with the first noteworthy attempt of the game.
Katie Stancombe was close to a leveller before the break when firing over after fine hold-up play from Ella Burnley.
Colney Heath saw a strong penalty appeal ignored early in the second period before Markwell produced a fine save to prevent Saints' deficit from doubling.
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And that was the cue for Marjoram's side to go on the attack in search of a leveller.
Stancombe was denied by a smothering save before Tierney Coulson missed the target with a header after being picked out by an Abbi Griffin free-kick.
And Griffin was also the provider for Saints' two best chances which both fell to Georgia Stancombe - the first of which was steered just over the bar an the second fired wide.
It meant Saints left empty-handed but with plenty of encouragement for the remainder of their survival battle.
They are third-bottom in a section where the bottom two teams will be relegated. St Ives have a four-point cushion on the sides below them and have played fewer games.
They face a tough task this Sunday when hosting unbeaten table-toppers Harlow Town Ladies at Westwood Road, 2pm.