DROITWICH Spa slip up in the title race as they are held to a 1-1 draw by third-from-bottom Barnt Green Spartak in heated local derby at the King George Playing Fields.
James Lemon had given the Saltmen the lead before Nathan Greaves levelled on the stroke of half-time to earn Spartak a valuable point in their fight for survival.
James Ward had thought he had netted the winner minutes from the end but his goal was chalked off for a foul in the box.
The result sees Spa sit two points clear at the top of the Midland League Division Two table but with third place Chelmsley Town sitting just three points off the top, having three games in hand, the ball is now in their court.
Spa started the game with a blistering tempo and probably should have found themselves ahead within the first minute of the game.
After Lemon had broken free down the right, his cross could not be converted as Nick Seabourne’s free header was easily collected by Spartak keeper Raghban Ali.
Ali was once again called into action ten minutes later to prevent Macauley Finch from netting after he capitalised on some poor Spartak defending on their own 18-yard line.
A few of minutes later, Spartak carved out their first real opportunity of the game as Michael McGhie shot from distance only to see his effort saved low-down by Matthew Oliver.
Spartak’s keeper Ali once again proved to be a brick wall as two quickfire saves in the space of two minutes kept the scores level.
The first coming after he saved a toe poke from Seabourne after he was through one-on-one before once again coming up with a superb stop at his near post to keep out Lemon.
However, Ali’s resistance was broken five minutes from time.
After Jack Brighton’s shot was tipped onto the crossbar, the ball landed at the feet of Lemon who could not miss to give the Saltmen the lead.
But that was not the end of the drama as right on the stroke of the interval, Greaves brought Spartak level with a well driven effort into the top corner from the edge of the area, much to the frustration of Spa manager Wayne Oliver.
Going into the second half, Spartak, buoyed with confidence, created the first opportunity but Reece Mills could only scuff his effort well wide of the mark.
McGhie should have put Spartak in front on the hour mark as after the ball was given away on the half way line, he raced his way through only to see Oliver save with his feet.
Spa almost nosed themselves in front but Brighton’s free kick on the edge of the area whistled just over Ali’s crossbar.
Ali once again proved to be the difference between the two sides in the 73rd minute as he superbly tipped Mike Seeley’s header over the bar from a corner.
More frustration for Spa followed as Finch’s pile driver from 20 yards out was again well saved by Ali.
With five minutes remaining, the Saltmen thought they’d won it as Ward headered home from Brighton’s corner but the referee blew up for a foul in the process.
Despite a late onslaught, Spartak survived, holding out for an invaluable point that moves them four points clear of second-from-bottom Feckenham.
The Saltmen meanwhile, are now two points clear at the top, three ahead of Chelmsley, but with Chelmsley having three games in hand, the title is now theirs to lose.