Northern Counties East League Division One
Skegness Town 1 Dronfield Town 1
A last-gasp equaliser from skipper Courtney Warren secured a point for 10-man Skegness Town against high-flying Dronfield Town at the Vertigo Stadium.
Despite having to play more than half the match a man down, the Lilywhites showed great spirit to snatch a point at the death.
It was no more than they deserved after a battling display against one of the favourites for the title.
Manager Martyn Bunce rang the changes, with four new signings joining the squad.
In goal was James Lambley, returning to the club.
The defence was bolstered by the inclusion of his brother Loz and Simon Ashton.
Providing extra steel in the centre of the park was Richard Ford, all four making the move from Boston Town.
Ford’s experience was invaluable throughout the afternoon, not just for his tenacious tackling, but for the way he calmed things down when the pressure built in midfield.
The new boys provided extra strength against one of the biggest sides to have faced the seasiders so far this term.
The early exchanges illustrated why this was required as Dronfield threatened the home goal.
Keeper Lambley had to block several times and his goal led a charmed life during the first 45 minutes.
Twenty-five minutes in he pulled off the save of the game to keep his team on level terms.
A deflected ball spun over his head and crashed against the crossbar. As it dropped into the path of Joshua Gibson the centre forward rose to knock in the rebound, but Lambley made himself big, deserving the luck as it ricocheted against his head and away to safety.
The seasiders were not without their chances and Jordan Smith was causing problems for the Dronfield left back.
Urged on by the local faithful in the John Woodward stand, he teased and probed from the first minute.
But 10 minutes before the break he was dismissed after overstretching in a challenge in the edge of the visiting penalty area.
The ball was rolling away from him and as he lunged to recover possession he caught Connor Chapel across his shin.
The visitors erupted and a fracas ensued.
After consulting with his linesman, referee Liam Marsh showed Smith a straight red card.
It may have been harsh, but the Lilywhites refused to feel sorry for themselves and rolled up their sleeves, ready for the battle ahead.
They reached the interval on level terms and prepared themselves for 45 minutes of hard graft.
Those who hadn’t seen the sending off might not have gathered that the seasiders were playing without a full complement.
Marshall Young was inches away from connecting with a Warren cross from the right.
Ford then showed great skill and determination to get by two defenders, but crossed straight to keeper Lewis Naylor.
George Hobbins broke clear, but dragged his shot wide of the target.
Midway through the half Dronfield started to get on top and Ord should have done better when well placed, but missed the goal completely as Ashton attempted to close him down.
As they approached the last 15 minutes there were signs of tiredness among the brave men from Skegness, but they continued to frustrate the visitors with some desperate defending.
Then Matthew Ord broke into the Skegness box, forcing a corner.
From the resultant set play Tom Fairweather rose unmarked to head home from six yards and the home supporters feared the worst.
The goal injected new life into the visitors and Skegness were hanging on.
Ashton threw himself in front Mark Fereday to deny the striker a certain goal.
Bunce threw on Nathan Hotchen for the last 10 minutes and he made an immediate impact, nipping in front of Naylor at the near post to head home what looked like an equaliser, but Mr Marsh spotted an infringement and ruled it out.
The Lilywhites must have felt hard done by, but they didn’t give up.
After surviving a shot from Michael Fereday that skimmed the top of their net, the seasiders bounded towards the other end and forced a corner kick in the 87th minute.
This felt like their last chance to grab an equaliser and so it proved. The ball was whipped in from the right and up leapt Warren to force it home.
TOWN: J. Lambley, Warren, Stevens, Ford, Ashton, L. Lambley, Smith, Hobbins, Young, Potts, Frost, Evison, Hotchen, Portas, H. Bunce.
On Saturday Skegness are at home again when Swallownest are the visitors (KO 3pm).