CLITHEROE were seconds away from clinching victory against struggling Wakefield on Saturday after battling back from two goals down.
Tom Marsden’s last-gasp equaliser for the home side meant the spoils were shared, and the Blues remain eight points above the Evo-Stik League Division One (North) relegation zone, still nervously glancing over their shoulder.
Going into the game, Wakefield found themselves on an eight-match losing streak, and with a winless league run stretching back to August.
The main incident in a tentative opening quarter-of-an-hour was Wakefield substitute Adam Jones, who was only signed late on Friday evening, being sent from the dug-out for apparent dissent.
The home side took the lead on 16 minutes when Nathan Peskett’s header, from a right-wing cross, struck the post, and Dan Sheriffe drilled home the rebound for the first of his two goals in seven first-half minutes.
Wakefield went close to doubling their lead moments later when Fernando Moke fired narrowly wide from a tight angle.
Clitheroe keeper Zack Hibbert was then forced to take evasive action to deny Peskett before Darren Thornton’s free-kick found its way to the feet of Sheriffe, who snaffled up the opportunity from only a couple of yards out.
Things looked bleak for Clitheroe at this stage, but they showed admirable character to battle back and level matters before half-time.
After strong penalty appeals for a foul on Ashley Parillon had been waved away, Marcus Calvert and Bobby Langford combined to set up debutant Glodi Kuba-Kuba to halve the deficit on 32 minutes.
Five minutes later, Calvert’s persistence paid off as he out-muscled the Wakefield defence to restore parity.
Although momentum was seemingly now with Clitheroe, Hibbert was forced to make two important saves before the break, the second with his feet from Miles Smith’s drilled effort being the more impressive.
The second half failed to live up to the first in terms of goals, although Wakefield came close on several occasions.
And had it not been for Clitheroe keeper Hibbert making a number of crucial saves, his side may well have been staring defeat in the face.
Despite the Bears creating the more presentable chances, Clitheroe took the lead in the 66th minute with a goal of real quality.
A cushioned header by Calvert found Parillon, who had moved up front following Kuba-Kuba’s substitution, and his exquisite pass with the outside of the foot found Sam Madeley, who clipped the ball over the Wakefield goalkeeper to become Clitheroe’s second debutant to find the net.
The Blues will feel they should have seen the game out from this position, but Hibbert continued to be called upon.
He made one superb save in particular to deny Sheriffe his hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining.
It looked as though the visitors had done enough to secure what would have been a vital three points, but deep into injury time, Marsden finally managed to squeeze a shot beyond Clitheroe’s keeper following a goalmouth scramble.
Being in need of three points to put some distance between themselves and the teams just above the league’s drop zone, Carl Garner’s men, despite being two goals down at one stage early in the first half, will no doubt have been disappointed to be travelling back along the M62 with only a point from this fixture.
Wakefield’s late equaliser also means that since they started competing in the same league as each other in 2006, Clitheroe are yet to beat their Yorkshire rivals in an away fixture despite more often than not finishing above them in the league.
The Blues will now hope for better fortune as they travel to face Salford City on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m.).