NORTH Shields FC were denied the three points they craved by a second-half Northallerton equaliser, plus the performance of referee Ian Lowther, who incurred the wrath of everyone at the Daren Persson Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Spot kicks have figured prominently in the Shieldsmen’s fortunes of late.
This time, with the Tynesiders pressing tenaciously for a winner, the official turned down two legitimate penalty shouts, firstly when substitute Michael Pattison was bundled over then when Jon Hall was sent flying, but the resultant lack of any conviction from Mr Lowther summed up the whole display not just in these defining moments.
Nevertheless the two teams still served up a tasty treat on the difficult surface, but two points from the last 12 on offer is not what the doctor ordered, as the tussle for third place heads to the wire.
The Robins have now been held twice in this campaign by their mid-table opponents, having been cruising 2-0 up with only a couple of minutes remaining at Ainderby Road.
After an exhausting and frustrating evening, team boss Anthony Woodhouse declared: “The referee aside, I wasn’t happy with our work-rate and we seemed to lack drive when it mattered.
“There were some harsh words said in the dressing room afterwards.”
The visitors were first to threaten with Craig Winter powering a header over and Peter Bulmer forcing Michael Robinson into a fine save.
On the 26 minute mark the Robins made the breakthrough they desired when a Keith Douglas effort was deflected via the upright into the path of Chris Laws who made no mistake, to record his second goal for the club.
Shields appeared hungry enough at this stage and came close to increasing their advantage with Laws rifling over the bar and Douglas thwarted by keeper Alex Kell.
Before the break James Luccock supplied a deep cross that saw Douglas cleverly shake off his marker at the far post but he could only direct the ball into the side netting from a tight angle.
The North Yorkshire outfit enjoyed a useful opening to the second half and Ross Brockon’s free kick crept through a crowded box to bounce against the post then Darren Mowbray’s lob floated inches wide.
The leveller wasn’t long coming, though, and on 69 minutes Mowbray tapped in following a scramble.
Once more Shields’ best performers had been at the back, namely the central pairing of Joe Elliot and Ross Atkinson, but they roused themselves for a frenzied onslaught as the clock ticked over.
A stretching Douglas headed just over and Grant Hickman was fortunate not to slice into his own net before the referee took centre stage, culminating in player-coach Andy Bowman, on as a late substitute, red-carded after the final whistle.
North Shields: Robinson, Hall, Patterson, Livermore, Elliot (Bowman 85), Atkinson, Cartwright (Rasmussen 75), Page, Laws, Douglas, Luccock (Pattison 46)
Subs not used: Graham, Pickering