Squires Gate 3, Maine Road 3
A last-minute equaliser from second-half substitute Isaac Kusaloka secured Gate a well deserved point from a highly entertaining six-goal, see-saw tussle at School Road.
Russ McKenna’s team struggled at times to impose their passing game on a Maine Road side four place and nine points better off than them in the North West Counties premier division.
It was Maine Road who created the clearer chances in the early stages, with striker Tom Bentham missing the best of them when firing well wide after wriggling clear of the Gate defence.
Gate gradually began to assert themselves with spells of neat interplay creating presentable chances for Andy Richards, Joe Shelmerdine and Louis Mayers. And on 39 minutes, Mayers comfortable slotted home a penalty to give the home side the lead going into the interval.
But Maine Road were level almost before spectators had brushed off the half-time pie crumbs.
Matt Struminskij applied a deft finish to loft the ball into the far corner over home keeper Nigel Beesley.
Liam Beckford then fired Maine Road into a 2-1 lead on 57 minutes only for Gate striker Joe Shelmerdine to hit a cracking equaliser on 70 minutes.
But with eight minutes remaining, Maine Road’s Bentham atoned for an earlier miss by scoring what looked a likely match-winner for the Manchester outfit.
Gate defender Zak Thomas was carried off with a head injury following a collision, and time was against the home side as they looked to reorganise.
But with spectators drifting towards the exits, it was Kusaloka who had the final say, gleefully rolling the ball past static keeper Greg Hall.
Player-manager McKenna, who has seen his side’s last three fixtures produce 18 goals, said: “The lads are working hard and playing some great football. We go into every game for a win, but by the end of this one I had to be happy with the point.”
Gate are in league action again tomorrow at home to Padiham (7.45pm).
Gate: Beesley, Farrow, Thomas, Horn, Benfield, McKenna, Mayers, Fishwick, Shelmerdine, Richards, Harries; subs: Kusaloka, Taylor.