Should Worksop Town fall short in their title challenge this season, they will look back ruefully on their games with Garforth Town.
In January’s fixture Garforth defended stoutly and packed the middle of the pitch before sneaking a late winner.
On Wednesday night at Sandy Lane, they well and truly parked the bus, and only came out to play in the last five minutes, snatching an 87th minute equaliser for a point.
Home fans will claim the visitors deserved no reward, but Garforth’s effective tactics, while unattractive, have cost Tigers five points in 2015.
The visitors, bedecked in garish purple and black shirts, set out their intentions early on with 11 men behind the ball.
Worksop looked to counter with width, Jono Wafula getting down the right and sending in a great cross, no one able to steer it home.
Chances were few and far between in the first 25 minutes, before the game sprang to life as a cross into the Garforth box was almost knocked into his own net by a defender.
The first real shot on goal came on 33 minutes, Tom Burgin passing into the feet of Andy Ofosu who spun but was unable to trouble Ben Hunter.
Tom Elliott’s quick break was halted by a cynical foul by Ashley Preece, who saw yellow, and Conor Sellars fired a brilliant free-kick goalwards, Hunter palming it over.
Despite seeing the vast majority of possession, Worksop began to get frustrated as Sellars’ reckless tackle on Sinmi Oyebaji showed, the midfielder picking up a yellow.
It would have been scarcely deserved, at best, but Garforth came close to an unlikely opener in first half stoppage time, Oyebanji’s rasping drive searing across the face of goal.
The first two minutes of the second half were all about Jake Scott, who was harshly booked for his part in a hard, but fair 50-50 with Sam Jones.
The Tigers skipper then fizzed a shot just wide.
There were signs that Tigers could forge opportunities, Phil Roe going on a promising run through the middle and Higginson’s long range shot just past the post.
At the other end, in what was a rare sighting of a Garforth player in the Worksop half, Luke Mangham got into the box and blasted over.
With things opening up slightly, Worksop won two corners in quick succession, Burgin on the end of both, his first shot blocked, his second inches over the bar.
Ross Henshaw then stepped up into the play and his clipped ball to the back post eluded everyone.
Heads were in hands when Adam Ward, on for Sellars, failed to connect with a 15 yard effort and dragged it wide.
Garforth were living a charmed life, a defender getting in the way of Higginson’s shot from five yards out, and a wayward header from a man in purple was goalbound until a defender cleared off the line.
But finally all the pressure, and all the possession paid off.
Elliott looked set to shoot before a shove in the back sent him to the ground, and substitute Kyle Jordan kept cool to dispatch the resulting penalty.
But with just three minutes left disaster struck, a ball through the middle causing confusion, Mark Simpson stealing in to lob Jon Stewart for a remarkable equaliser.
Worksop, who spent a long time after the match engaged in an on-pitch post mortem with a frustrated manager Mark Shaw, will need to get over the disappointment in time for Saturday’s visit of Heanor Town, in what will be another crucial outing for the title-hunting Tigers.
Worksop: Stewart 6, Wafula 6, ROE 6, Henshaw 6, Liversidge 6, Burgin 6, Sellars 5 (Ward 67), Scott 6, Ofosu 5 (Whincop 58) Higginson 5 (Jordan 75), Elliott 6. Not used: Cottingham, Hawkins.
Garforth: Hunter, Hawksworth, Robertson, Smith, McCarthy, Alali, Jones, Preece, Mangham, Rupere, Oyebanji (Simpson 79). Not used: Simpkins, Lund.
Referee: Mr D. Benton. Assistants: Mr. P. Tomes, Mr. J. Bramall.
Goalscorers: Jordan 84 (pen); Simpson 87
Yellows: Sellars 45, Scott 46; Preece 39, Smith 83