Scarborough Athletic fought back from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with Evo-Stik South title contenders Leek Town, despite skipper Paul Foot seeing red.
After Queensgate observed a minutes silence in memory of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, proceedings got off to a fast start.
Boro began with great intensity with striker Grant Ryan looking lively and winger Ryan Williams seeing plenty of the ball down the right as the Seadogs passed and moved at pace.
The only thing missing was a truly telling pass in the final third with Boro failing to test Ben Chapman in the Leek goal.
For all their good build-up play, Jimmy Beadle’s 18th-minute glancing header from a Williams centre was as close as the hosts came before the break.
By contrast, Leek were slow out of the blocks, but the Blues grew into the game and almost took the lead when central midfielder Niall Maguire’s deflected shot from the edge of the box bounced narrowly the wrong side of the post with Jason White rooted to the spot.
John Johnston then cut in from the left and clipped the top of White’s bar with an inswinging effort before the Boro stopper brilliantly tipped a Jordan Johnson free-kick over the top as the away side finshed the half on top.
Just as they had done in the first period, Boro began the second half brightly with Beadle testing Chapman with a header two minutes after the re-start.
At the other end, White was forced to extend himself to push away a Johnston strike before Ryan burst forward to set up Williams to sting Chapman’s palms.
The Town gloveman was unable to cling on, but Blott was crowded out insdide the six-yard box before he could tuck away the loose ball with the goal gaping.
Disaster then struck for Athletic as skipper Foot lunged into two tackles in quick succession, the second of which left Leek striker Ben Mills in a heap on the floor.
A melee ensued as the visiting players surrounded the referee to demand a red card for Athletic’s captain.
Although he won the ball, Foot did appear to leave the ground as he flew in and dispossessed Mills, and Mr Rhodes deemed his tackle dangerous enough to warrant a straight red card.
Funk was forced to reorganise with Ben Middleton entering the fray from the bench as midfielder Jordan Thewlis made way.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Seadogs with 69 minutes gone.
A Boro corner was cleared to Maguire who broke clear and the home side were again indebted to White for another fine stop, only for Matt Plummer to head into his own net from the resulting right-wing corner kick.
With Boro struggling to generate much forward momentum and the Blues looking comfortable in the ascendancy, there was little sign of an equaliser being on the cards as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark.
Ryan, however, had other ideas.
The former Manfield Town man picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the Leek area and worked himself a shooting opportunity before calmly slotting an effort across Chapman and inside the far post.
Leek, involved in a three-way battle for the Evo-Stik South title, shuffled their pack as they went in search of a winning goal. Mills just failed to get his head on the end of a cross from the left before Johnston smashed the loose ball wildy across the face of goal.
That was as close as the visitors came to grabbing a winner as the last chance of the contest fell to Athletic, Ryan slicing an effort wide of the post with almost the last kick of the game.
With their season drawing to a close and little at stake, Boro still managed to produce a performance that the Queensgate faithful will have enjoyed.
The vibrance and intensity of the first half was matched by a gritty, battling effort after Foot was dismissed.
Jason White deserves a special mention for three fine stops that kept Boro in the game at 0-0, while Gary Bradshaw, once again playing in an unfamiliar midfield role, was also superb.