Runcorn FC Halton 2, Bradford Park Avenue 1: A DESPERATE last roll of the dice threw up lucky number two - and for Runcorn, it was almost like winning the lottery.
The Linnets showed the fight and fervour demanded by Steve Soley. But supporters must have feared the chance of victory from a must-win game had passed the side by when co-relegation strugglers Bradford equalised four minutes from time.
Enter substitute James Lock to defy the lengthening odds with a precious last-gasp second and winning goal.
Avenue's leveller had wiped out a lead Runcorn opened inside two minutes and for the most part never looked like surrendering.
But Bradford pushed more and more men forward in the final quarter, after surviving a fierce onslaught for the first half of the second period, and got their reward.
A half-cleared left-wing corner was played back into the box from the opposite side by sub Thomas Curle for Tom Greaves to pounce and seem-ingly salvage a point for Avenue.
But even a draw wasn't enough for a visiting side whose starting position was even more perilous than Runcorn's - on the field at least - and it was Bradford's ambition which brought their downfall.
Chasing a winner instead of settling for what they had, they left themselves open to a sucker punch. And with normal time almost up, Lock delivered the goal which may yet save Runcorn's season if their behind-thescenes turmoil can be sorted.
Fans who have had to take a succession of body blows in recent years and a lot on the chin this campaign alone deserve a solution.
The small crowd celebrated Lock's 90th-minute goal as if it had won a cup final and held its breath during the four stoppage-time minutes.
Runcorn had been in front after just 68 seconds, thanks to an opportunist strike from Robbie Moore for whom it had been an unpredictable week.
Omitted from defence at Nuneaton, he earned a recall - but in attack - and had a dream start after Phil McDiarmid, enjoying some early success on the left, had hooked the ball into the middle.
The ball broke for Moore to fire home right-footed from 12 yards.
The rest of the half saw Bradford have much of the territory without posing too many problems and Run-corn look promising on the counter attack but, again, without causing the Yorkshire side that much anxiety.
For 20 minutes after the restart, the Linnets had the visitors under siege but failed to increase their lead.
Yet Moore almost got a head to Nicky Young's cross as the latter produced one of his purple patches.
While the hosts struggled for pace up front, Tommy Taylor provided it out wide on the right.
And when he found himself more centrally-placed in the 53rd minute, he came within inches of scoring after skipping past the last defender.
Runcorn's play in midfield was largely disappointing, although Lee Parle was full of industry and put an important foot in at times.
The entry of Scott Willis provided some drive in the engine room and, aided by Bradford boss Carl Shutt's policy of pushing players on, which included himself, the former Lincoln midfieldman found room to exploit in front of the Avenue rearguard.
Willis was unlucky with a quick-thinking effort from the centre circle in the Bradford half, which had the keeper beaten but drifted just wide.
Bradford were by now troubling Runcorn more in attack and just before his strike partner Greaves struck, Stephen Oleksewycz forced a fine save from Neil Thompson.
The equaliser from the resulting corner could have knocked the stuffing out of Runcorn. But Soley sent on Lock and the ex-army man saved the day after good work from Phil Denny.
RUNCORN: Thompson, Spearritt, Mc-Ginn, Jones, Robertson, Parle, Taylor, Jack (Willis 74), Moore, Young (Denny 69), McDiarmid (Lock 87). Subs: Carragher, Henighan. Attendance: 215.