INCONSISTENT Uttoxeter Town were held to a draw by Norton United at Oldfields after an under-par display just three days after they stuffed Kidsgrove Athletic 6-0.
Mark Grimley and Andy O’Connor kept the same starting XI that had ripped through Kidsgrove on Wednesday evening and within the first minute of Saturday’s match Town had already hit the woodwork.
Tommy Smith saw an effort palmed wide but Matty Redshaw could only find the upright from a tight angle on the left.
The early signs were that Town would cruise to another three points as the Norton defence was easily opened up and when Lee Bagley headed in Rob Collins’ perfect free kick, the watching fans would have been forgiven for thinking the floodgates were about to open.
However, Town looked well short of the standards they had previously set and Norton caused them problems on the counter attack.
Some profligate finishing from the hosts gave United hope and when Adam Hilton, preferred to Alex Langridge, could only parry a 20-yard drive, the Norton striker was on hand to turn home the equaliser.
More chances went begging for the hosts when Curley was twice denied by some good goalkeeping and Town paid the penalty when another long-range effort crept past Hilton at the near post to give the visitors the advantage at the break.
Town improved marginally after the restart and Curley had another effort, this time clipping the ball over the goalkeeper and the bar before skipper Martin Gadsby headed wide from another pinpoint Collins corner.
The pressure was beginning to mount on United’s goal and Curley grabbed his third goal in two games when he powered down the right side before finishing well across the keeper.
The hosts went in search of a winner as the clock ticked down and it looked as if they had grabbed it on 80 minutes when Collins again turned provider.
The full-back whipped in a pinpoint cross from the left for Gadsby to power home a firm header to the delight of the watching fans.
Redshaw then went through to seal the win but when the forward was brought down in the box, Town were dealt a double blow.
The referee waved away the penalty appeals and Redshaw limped out of the action to reduce Town, who had already used their full quota of substitutes, to 10 men.
Norton pushed hard for an equaliser and it was another long-range effort that restored parity.
United’s left-back found space 20 yards out to power home a deserved equaliser for the visitors.
It was a poor display by Town who need to find some consistency in their play if they are to threaten at the top of the table.
The McCarron Plumbing and Heating man of the match award went to Rob Collins.
TOWN: Hilton, Brown (Woods 70), Price, Bagley (Ward 46), Collin, Sowter, Gadsby, Esplin, Smith (Holley 72), Curley, Redshaw.