A brave and determined performance from an under strength Blyth Spartans saw them deservedly come away from Matlock Town with a point on Tuesday evening.
Ash Davis’ 85th minute equaliser got Tom Wade’s side back on level terms when it seemed that everything was going against them.
Neal Hooks, Damen Mullen, Dan Maguire and Arjun Purewal were all missing and Lewis Horner was only fit enough to take a place on the bench.
That meant Ryan Cummings came into the centre of midfield and Ian Watson switched to right back to accommodate Joe Kendrick on the opposite side of defence.
There were first appearances in the squad for former Seaton Delaval duo Michael Scott and Ryan Hutchinson as they were named on the bench.
Spartans had the first chance of the game as Arran Wearmouth’s neat flick released Davis on the left hand side of the area, but the former Whitley Bay forward’s low drive across goal was well saved by Gladiators keeper Jon Kennedy.
From his clearance Shaun Tuton found himself in on goal but volleyed wide from ten yards.
The game turned scrappy with neither side managing to take control, although the hosts wasted a golden chance to grab the lead just before the half hour mark.
A back post free kick from Joe Leesley found Cecil Nyoni but the midfielder could only drive into the side netting from a narrow angle.
Ten minutes before half-time Spartans had two chances to take the lead, although they were handed to them by their hosts.
A Wearmouth cross was deflected narrowly wide of the near post by Oscar Radford with Kennedy stranded, and from the resulting corner Paul Robinson crossed and Radford headed back towards his own goal but Kennedy parried it clear to ensure the deadlock remained unbroken at the interval.
A lively start to the second half saw Spartans on top but the first real chance fell to the Gladiators.
A brave stop at the near post from Conor Grant denied Tuton as Mark Atkins’ side looked set to celebrate the opener.
Spartans hit straight back, though, and Wearmouth danced past Leesley on the right but his fierce drive across goal failed to find a team-mate who would have had a simple finish.
Twenty minutes into the second half the home side took the lead with a neat free kick from substitute James Ashmore, although Spartans had more than a valid claim against the set-piece being awarded. Ryan Cummings was adjudged to have fouled Corey Gregory when the young midfielder seemed to have won the ball.
Ashmore stepped up and curled over the wall and into the top left hand corner.
That was the first away league goal Spartans have conceded in 335 minutes.
However, a dogged Spartans kept plugging away and almost grabbed an equaliser five minutes later.
Kennedy parried a Robinson corner from the right and the loose ball ran to Kendrick. His flick seemed set to nestle in the net but was cleared off the line by Oscar Radford
Soon after there was a debut for Hutchinson as the former Seaton Delaval man replaced Matthew Wade in the heart of the Spartans midfield.
But the frustration of missed chances did not last long and with five minutes left Davis got his first league goal since his return to the club.
The striker had endured a frustrating night but as he chased his own flick on he pressured Adam Yates, who dallied on the ball. That allowed Davis to flick the ball over Kennedy who got a touch but could not prevent it bobbling into the net to ensure Spartans returned to Northumberland with a deserved point.
Spartans’ man of the match was Danny Parker.
Blyth Spartans: Grant, Kendrick, Watson, Buddle, Parker, Wade (Hutchinson 75), Robinson, Davis, Wearmouth, Cummings, Dale. Subs not used: Bonket, Scott, Horner.