Shirebrook Town extended their impressive unbeaten run into double figures on Saturday, but they had to settle for a point on their travels with a 1-1 NCEL draw against Barnsley-based outfit Worsbrough Bridge Athletic.
Having lost twice already this season to tough nuts Worsbrough, improving eighth-placed Shirebrook had something of a point to prove, and they went into the game boosted by a fine 2-0 away win in midweek against Evo-Stik First Division South side Mickleover Sports in the Third Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Worsbrough’s league form had faltered of late, winning only two of their last six games, but they started this game keen to take advantage of their Park Road pitch slope and the gusting wind behind their backs.
The home side were first to find the target, but Chris White’s shot on 11 minutes from the edge of the box on the right was easy and straight at Shirebrook keeper Gavin Saxby.
However, the visitors soon settled and it was they that drew first blood seven minutes later, left back Danny Claridge smashing the ball low from 25 yards into the bottom corner of the Worsbrough net, to keeper Jared Oxley’s left.
Nevertheless, Shirebrook’s lead only lasted four minutes when they gave Scott Turner far too much space and time on the edge of the box, and he turned and lashed the ball home low to Saxby’s right to level the scores.
The visitors might have gone behind just before the half-hour when Mark Camm appeared to flatten Turner in the Shirebrook box as both challenged for the ball, but keeper Saxby kept his side in it, sensibly deciding to stand his ground, using his legs to deny Worsbrough skipper Lee Garside who struck his penalty low down the middle.
But it was Shirebrook who finished the half the stronger, top-scorer Aaron Moxam going close with a right-foot shot from the edge of the box with ten minutes to go and midfielder Danny Booth heading just wide of the right hand upright from 12 yards almost on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors must have then been the favourites going into the second half, and for the opening 15 minutes they had the bulk of the play.
But Worsbrough came back into it and Shirebrook once again had keeper Saxby to thank on 66 minutes, this time touching Adam Podmore’s far post header onto the crossbar, before central defender Ross Henshaw finally cleared the ball away from danger.
Two minutes after that Shirebrook had a reasonable shout for a penalty waved away when Adam Shepherd went down in the Worsbrough box.
The game then descended into a scrappy midfield tussle that neither side really looked capable of winning, although the visitors had the better of the chances in the final few minutes.
Shirebrook skipper Craig Getliff sliced a 25-yard shot wide of the left hand upright with three minutes to go, before Claridge cut into the Worsbrough box from the left only to see his stoppage time effort blocked and cleared without troubling keeper Oxley.
Next up Shirebrook Town return to Langwith Road on Saturday for their final game before Christmas when the visitors will be Lincolnshire side Louth Town for a 3pm kick-off.
WORSBROUGH BRIDGE ATHLETIC: Oxley, Scully, Young, Cawley, Laight, McFadyen, Turner, Morris (Shirt 83), Podmore, Garside, White. Subs not used: Walker, Peace, Hilton.
SHIREBROOK TOWN: Saxby, Shirley, Claridge, Camm (Wankiewicz 67), Henshaw, Diuk, Bacon, Getliff, Moxam, Booth, Shepherd Brown 74). Subs not used: Thompson, Clarke.
REFEREE: Paul Matthewson of South Yorkshire.