Heath Banta saw their Division Three promotion aspirations frustrated in a thrilling encounter that finished 2-2 against relegation-threatened Real Life.
Real Life will be happier with the point than Heath given the 7-2 defeat by the same side in their last game two weeks previous. But there will also be that familiar feeling of disappointment that having been 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go, they could not hold on for that still elusive first league win of the season.
Real Life, struggling with injuries and player availability, started the brighter. Inside five minutes a trademark long-throw from player-manager Jamie Beaumont was flicked on at the near post by Dan Markeson in to the net. 1-0. Markeson was excellent all day in the centre midfield, never shirking a challenge and using the ball intelligently.
Banta hit back midway through the half following some pressure for 1-1. But Real Life kept going, looking dangerous down both wings. And when Charlie Bernstein flicked the ball on to put skipper Ed Lewin in the clear, they looked on to take the lead. Lewin's volley was arrowing for the corner, but the Banter keeper pulled of an excellent save to keep the scores level.
Bernstein also had a couple of chances in the first half but to no avail for the Oranges. The teams went in level at half time.
Five minutes into the second half, surprise inclusion Beaumont pulled up with a recurrence of his thigh injury. A brave passenger for the rest of the half, it meant Ben Kfir and Lewin had to rotate the right-back/anchor midfield role while Beaumont swanned effectively, or is that effectively swanned, in centre midfield for the rest of the game.
Consistent pressure from Bantre resulted in a string of dangerous corners. Real Life rode their luck through a mixture of wayward finishing and excellent handling from keeper Will Martyn.
It was a battle.and with 10 minutes to go the ball fell into Lewin who clipped the ball over the top to Charlie Bernstein. On the shoulder of the last defender, Bernstein was all pace and power, bouncing out the attentions of the defender and firing an instinctive finish from 18 yards into the corner of the net. Classic Charlie - could Real Life hang on?
Unfortunately for the Oranges, the Banta winger got down the right and clipped over a ball which swerved in the wind. Martyn could only parry the ball into his own net. 2-2.
But the drama was not over. First, Banta's forward ran through and in the clear, struck the upright to the relief of the Oranges. And then, two gilt-edged chances for Life to win it. First, the irrepressible Jonny Bruck clean through. It seemed the weight of knowing this was the chance for three points for the first time this season weighed on the normally calm finisher, and his attempt was high over the bar.
And then as Bernstein broke through again, riding the challenges, Life's winger had another opportunity, only for that chance to be blazed over.
This was a Real Life team performance with every player from front to back giving their all. The Real Life man of the match was Ben Kfir, who epitomised the team in his hunger and desire to win the ball.