Four goals proved not to be enough as Marine AFC squandered three leads in an enthralling 4-4 draw with Workington.
Michael Carberry and Louis White netted the pick of the goals with two stunners, adding to Nathan Woodthrope and Sol Solomon’s strikes, but it wasn’t enough despite taking the lead twice.
Dannen Francis firstly restored parity before David Symington fortuitously fired the visitors into the lead. Second-half contributions from Danny Rigg and Joe Bunney sent the travelling supporters back in good spirits.
The two former foes locked horns for the first time since the Reds earned promotion to the Northern Premier League, a year after the Mariners’ triumph which saw them knockout the Cumbrian side on course to playoff success.
Marine were looking to follow up their dogged performance away at Worksop Town, with Joe Ferguson’s goal enough for Neil Young’s 10 men.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t follow up their heroics in a flat performance on Tuesday night. But it was a dream start for Marine when Nathan Woodthrope poked home from Sol Solomon’s corner.
It sparked a spell of Mariners pressure after a lacklustre start from the visitors. Workington remained persistent to play out from the back despite Marine having joy in dispossessing which provided White with his first sight on goal, but he could only fizz his effort over.
Johnny Spittle, who will serve a one-match ban and miss the visit of Ilkeston Town on Saturday following his red card against Worksop, rose highest soon after but couldn’t keep his header down.
In an instant, the game was level in one of the first forays forward for Workington. Symington’s initial effort was superbly saved by Felix Goddard but the rebound fell only as far as Francis who cannoned home off the underside of the crossbar.
Twelve minutes later, the visitors were in front after a mistake from the on-loan goalkeeper Goddard. The Blackburn Rovers loanee was unfortunate not to pick up Player of the Match in Nottinghamshire, but he will not want to watch Symington’s strike back after his long-range effort slipped through his grasp.
Goddard was called into action once again soon after, making a crucial Kitt Nelson as he saved well with his feet. It proved to be an important moment in the encounter as Marine levelled proceedings at the other end.
The Mariners were in need of inspiration and they got just that through Carberry. The former Southport defender opened his Marine account in superb fashion as he arrowed a left-footed thunderbolt past a helpless Danny Eccles.
On the stroke of half-time, Marine were in front once again as Solomon moved level in his inter-club battle with Fin Sinclair-Smith. The Jersey attacker netted his 11th of the season firing low into the bottom corner.
Although the lead was short-lived with Workington equalising for a second time after the restart with Rigg capping a fine performance with a goal. The 31-year-old rose highest to nod home after Francis turned provider, following good work down the right.
The slugfest lacked any real quality in possession but there was another moment of sheer brilliance from Marine when White dragged the hosts in front.
Parity was restored for a mere six minutes until White’s dipped a fantastic free-kick in off the bar.
Young’s side looked to be heading for the points in their push for the playoffs until Thomas Swift pointed to the spot.
A lapse at the back allowed Symington to latch onto a clipped free-kick into the box, Carberry’s desperate attempt to shield the ball out of play saw him step across the Workington captain and bring him down for a penalty late on.
Bunney, who won the Liverpool Senior Cup for Marine from the spot in April, made no mistake with an emphatic penalty pummelling the dead-ball into the roof of the net.
There was one more chance for the hosts to snatch a win when Conor Evans pounced on a defensive error from the visitors. The Crewe Alexandra loanee forced a superb reflex save from Eccles one-on-one with both sides settling for a point.
Cheers rang out from one section of the ground after Swift blew for full-time. Those travelling down from Borough Park were left pleased by the resilient performance to earn a point on Merseyside.
A five-point gap remains for Marine in their quest for playoff football, with four games in hand after their FA Cup and FA Trophy adventures, but the Tuesday curse came back to bite them in baltic conditions on the coast.