Ryhope Colliery Welfare were made to rue missed chances as they drew 2-2 at home to Dunston UTS in the Northern League on Saturday.
Gary Pearson’s side twice lead through James Ellis and Lee Chapman, but goals from Richie Slaughter and a superb solo goal from Dale Burrell ensured both sides came away with a share of the spoils.
The draw ensures that Ryhope need one point to secure survival in their maiden season in the Division One of the Northern League, but it does extend their winless run to eight games.
Pearson said: “If the game was judged on chances alone, we probably edged that. We missed a few guilt edged chances at a critical part of the game, which we’ve spoken about before.
“Overall I was pleased. I’d have taken a point before the game, but I definitely think we were the more impressing side.”
The hosts started the game brightly and a took the lead in the third minute when Ellis flicked home David Gordon’s cross from the left to score his 20th league of the season.
The lead was almost doubled when skipper Leon Ryan hit the ball first time from range after a poor clearance from Stefan Holden in the visitor’s goal, but his effort went inches wide.
Ryhope missed another good chance when Ryan’s flick set Ellis through on goal, but he dragged his effort wide with the goal at his mercy.
Dunston made Colliery Welfare pay for their missed chances when Slaughter’s volley from 20 yards ricocheted into the top corner after a corner wasn’t cleared properly to level the tie with 36 minutes gone.
Pearson’s side responded straight from kick-off as Tom Bott’s inch-perfect through ball for Chapman was duly slotted away to restore the home side’s lead.
Jonny Ball kept his side in the lead going into the break as he pulled off a fine low save to prevent Burrell from equalising on the stroke of half-time.
Four minutes into the second half and Burrell wasn’t to be denied again as he turned Simon Ord in the Ryhope midfield and danced through the defence and smashed low past Ball from inside the area to level the game once more.
Bott had the chance to give the hosts the lead for the third time shortly after, but he couldn’t get any connection on Gordon’s in-swinging free kick.
Both sides pressed for a winner, but Scott Heslop missed the best chance with 20 minutes remaining as he raced through one-on-one with Ball, but he smashed his effort into the side netting.
The result impressed Pearson, whose side lost 2-0 in the reverse fixture in October 2016.
“I would like to think that if we’d started the season since Christmas, we’d be a few more places up that division.”
The former Crook Town boss also spoke about his delight in responding so quickly to re-take the lead after Dunston levelled for the first time.
Pearson, said: “I loved it. The five minute rule is set in stone, but we fell to it second half. It’s pleasing in one way, but we were on the receiving end in the second half.
“Should we have taken a foul before the goal? I was a little disappointed that no one was clever enough to take him (Burrell) down outside the box. I think he should’ve been lifted.”
Ryhope CW play their penultimate game of the Northern League season next Saturday as they host ninth-placed Newton Aycliffe.