Gate found the net for the first time in four games, but they rued not scoring more on an afternoon they had a late ‘winner’ controversially ruled out.
Manager Danny Penswick made five changes from the disappointing draw at Nelson the previous weekend, with top scorer Ric Seear back.
Andrew Richards, Jamie Gibson and Ryan Riley were also recalled, with new signing David Rossall from Wyre Villa among the substitutes.
Gate had their first chance after only three minutes, when Seear cut the ball back for strike partner Mark Buchan, who shot wide.
They took the lead on 11 minutes, when midfielder Richards poked the ball goalwards and Paul Alexander back-heeled it in. The hosts went close again when Riley’s header from a free-kick landed on the top of the net.
Irlam’s best chance of the first half was a one-on-one with keeper Ben Fletcher, who was relieved to see their striker slip at the vital moment.
The Irlam keeper denied Gate a second three minutes before half-time, saving with his foot to prevent an own goal from Buchan’s low cross.
Gate had to defend well as the Salford club dominated the early stages of the second half, though they could have doubled their lead when Seear was sent through but shot at the keeper on 58 minutes.
Irlam’s Christian Lawler fired wide from a free-kick but Gate were creating more chances. Seear’s shot was pushed wide on 70 minutes, then Richards’ chip clipped the bar.
Seear was released by substitute Brett Dawson and his shot was deflected into the path of Jamie Gibson, who fired wide off-balance.
Irlam equalised with seven minutes left, when an attack down the left ended with Lawler tapping in.
Their performance may have deserved a goal but the game ended in controversy after Seear fired home at the far post only for the offside flag to be raised.
Gate are at home again tomorrow to second-placed Atherton Collieries.
Gate: Fletcher, Stayte, Higham, Hall, Carroll, Alexander, Richards, Riley, R Seear, Buchan, Gibson; Subs: Rossall, Tanser, Bamba, B.Seear, Dawson.