MARK Fitton grabbed a vital equaliser to salvage a point for injury-hit Nantwich Town at Jackson Avenue on Saturday.
The Dabbers were looking to recover from a traumatic midweek clash with rivals Newcastle Town, in which they conceded a last-minute leveller and suffered several injuries during a dramatic 3-3 draw.
But visitors Curzon Ashton, who along with Nantwich are among the promotion candidates in Division One, had other ideas and were heading for maximum points when they took a 62nd minute lead through Michael Norton.
But burly defender Fitton, on loan from Kidsgrove, thumped a 70th minute header home to earn a point and maintain the four-point buffer between third-placed Town and fifth-placed Ashton.
Boss Steve Davis said: 'It was a poor, scrappy game but we did well to come away with a point. In the first half we looked a bit disjointed, but in the second period we played well against a competitive side who knock the ball around to reasonable effect.
'Although we did want maximum points, it does go some way to repairing the damage done by a bitterly disappointing draw with Newcastle.'
In midweek, Nantwich were cruising at 3-1 thanks to goals from Matt Blake, Richard Smith and Andy Kinsey. But when Kinsey, Gyorgy Kiss and Michalis Chailis went off injured they looked vulnerable.
Paul Kiely reduced the arrears with an 82nd-minute spot-kick, and then fired a free-kick home in the dying seconds.
While Kinsey recovered, the Dabbers were still without Danny Griggs, Murray McCulloch, Paul Taylor, Kiss and Chailis for the visit of Curzon.
Davis turned to Stafford Rangers boss Phil Robinson, who allowed right-back Alex Gibson and central midfielder Christian Dacres to join on loan.
Andy Bott was unlucky not to open the scoring when his 16th minute chip over the keeper narrowly cleared the bar.
Curzon striker Norton hit the post with a 25-yard volley soon after, before referee Carl Dunn ordered Curzon manager Gary Lowe to leave the dugout for using abusive language.
Norton hit the woodwork again in the 22nd minute, while a Bott header was denied by an excellent save from keeper David Fish.
In the second half, the visitors' mis-fortune continued when Steve Moore hit the frame of the goal with a sweet strike, but Norton pounced on a loose ball to make it 1-0 soon after.
Nantwich kept going and hit back eight minutes later. An Adam Beasley corner found Fitton flying high above the jumping pack, and he buried his header with power.
Curzon hit the post for a fourth time, Norton again unlucky with a 20-yard angled shot, and Gibson hacked off the line in the 88th minute.
Nantwich entertain improving Trafford on Saturday. On Boxing Day, they travel to Stone Dominoes (3pm).