A dramatic late equaliser from Tony Gray completed a Warrington Town comeback against Nantwich Town and put them top of the Evo-Stik Premier League table.
The Yellows had trailed 3-1 in the first half, but Gray’s goal in the fourth minute of injury time secured a valuable point in a 3-3 draw, as title rivals Farsley Celtic lost at home.
Despite both sides boasting two of the best defensive records in the league, there were five goals in an incredible first half, in which Nantwich also missed a penalty.
Warrington made a sluggish start and they were made to pay inside just eight minutes, David Raven conceding a free-kick in the D on the edge of the box, and Sean Cooke stepped up to curl past Tony McMillan to give the Dabbers the lead, just as they had done in the reverse fixture.
It was a really nervy start by the Yellows and they were lucky not to be punished again three minutes later when Shaun Beeley was dispossessed in midfield and Joseph Malkin shot over the bar with other options available.
Things went from bad to worse on 14 minutes when Mark Roberts went to clear a high bouncing ball in the box and ended up wiping out Jamie Morgan for the first of two penalties the Dabbers would get in the first half. Up stepped Cooke, but McMillan pulled off a superb diving save to his right.
That gave the home supporters a lift and the Yellows gradually found their feet and a deflected shot by Tony Gray dropped just wide of the post to force a corner.
And from it, Jack Dunn’s delivery was flicked on and captain Roberts was there to sweep home at the far post.
Their joy was shortlived, three minutes later Nantwich regained their lead from the penalty spot. Again it was Morgan who won the spotkick, this time brought down by Alex Whittle as he attempted to clear, and up stepped Daniel Glover to make it 2-1.
Glover would then add a further blow to the Yellows on 33 minutes. Raven lost out to Malkin in midfield and after his cross fell to Morgan at the far side of the box, Morgan’s cross was steered acrobatically home by Glover for 3-1.
That wasn’t an end to the scoring in the first period, Warrington getting an important goal back with a nice move, Bohan Dixon beating a couple of men and clipping a ball to the back post for Gray, who headed back to Amis to head in his tenth goal in eight games.
It was always going to quieten down after the break and so it proved, as the visitors sought to protect their advantage.
Five successive corners shortly before the hour mark came to nothing for the Yellows, who then introduced Jack Mackreth and Vassallo to spark some life in to them.
A glorious opportunity fell to Amis shortly after the hour, he just didn’t get a solid connection on his header from Jack Dunn’s cross, and Troy Bourne was relieved to be able to divert it wide of the post.
William Jaaskelainen denied Gray before Shaun Beeley fizzed a shot wide, and when Ben Garrity twice headed over from right wing crosses, it looked like it wouldn’t be the Yellows’ day.
That was until virtually the last kick of the game, with ‘keeper McMillan up from the back, Vassallo’s corner fell to the feet of Gray and he steered it in to the corner.
The point is enough to put Warrington top of the table again, ahead of Tuesday’s visit to Workington.
Josh Amis heads for goal – picture John Hopkins
Mark Roberts celebrates – picture John Hopkins
Warrington celebrate Gray’s last gasp equaliser – picture John Hopkins
Warrington Town: McMillan, Duggan, Whittle (Hughes), Beeley, Roberts, Raven, Dixon (Mackreth), Garrity, Gray, Amis, Dunn (Vassallo). Unused subs: Evans, McCarthy.
Nantwich Town: Jaaskelainen, Morgan, Barnes, Stair, Mullarkey, Hughes, Bourne, Bell, Malkin (Lawrie), Cooke, Glover. Unused subs: Saunders, Fuller, Jones, Mwasile.
Pictures John Hopkins