UTTOXETER Town had to dig deep on a small tricky pitch as they were held to a draw by a notoriously hard to beat Audley side in their Staffordshire County League Premier Division clash.
Town, missing midfield lynchpin Martin Gadsby, travelled to the Potteries in confident mood having dispatched AFC Leek 7-0 in midweek with one of their best performances under Mark Grimley and Andy O’Connor.
However, it was always going to be a different test for the Town on Saturday – the players knew they would be in for a battle.
This was no more evident than within the first 30 seconds.
Matt Redshaw beat one man and was then recklessly hacked down.
On another day it could quite easily have brought a red card from the referee but astonishingly this one did not even warrant a warning for the Audley defender.
This then set the tone for the remaining 90 minutes, but Town tried to get it down and play, only to be stopped by niggly fouls all over the pitch.
This visibly unsettled the visitors for a period and the game became scrappy with very few chances of note, Tommy Smith and Redshaw with no more than half chances that the Audley keeper dealt with easily.
Town’s back line coped well with the aerial pressure that Audley put them under, James McCarron and Lee Bagley looking assured once again, while Alex Langridge was a mere spectator for long periods in the opening exchanges.
The game started to open up and Town took the lead on 59 minutes when an inswinging corner from Rob Collins was cleared to the left hand side of the penalty area.
Bagley volleyed the ball dangerously towards the back post and Redshaw reacted the quickest, nodding the ball home to the delight of the visitors.
Audley looked to bounce back and within minutes forced a good save from Langridge, who dived to his right and held a fierce strike from Danny Meek.
The visitors continued to probe, and it was not long before they got their reward.
On 71 minutes, a long ball was not cleared properly and Audley midfielder Jordan Beech seized the opportunity with a superb chest and volley over Langridge to level.
The last 20 minutes saw the game swing one way and then another and both sides could have won it.
Audley striker Williamson missed a golden opportunity to put the home side ahead. missing a one-on-one.
At the other end, Holley fed the ball to the marauding Reece Brown into the right wing area and he pulled the ball back for skipper Kyle Esplin, who fluffed his lines and missed the target from 16 yards.
All in all it was a good point for the Town, who showed another side to their play and proved they can do the dirty work as well as the pretty. They now sit top of the table, with Ball Haye Green a point behind.
INFINITY IT MAN OF THE MATCH: James McCarron - a terrific performance from the centre-half, who was dominant on the floor and in the air.
TOWN: Langridge, Price (Brown 75), McCarron, Bagley, Richards, Collins, Cockshutt (Ward 78), Esplin, Collins, Smith (Holley), Redshaw.
Uttoxeter Town produced a near perfect away performance at Harrison Park on Wednesday evening to ruthlessly dispatch a talented Leek outfit 7-0.
Town travelled in good spirits after a fine run of victories had left them in touching distance of the top of the Premier League.
Redshaw (4), Chris Richards (2) and Bagley netted the goals in a sensational performance.