ATHERTON Collieries recovered from their recent run of narrow defeats with a hard fought 1-1 draw against NPL Premier Division high-flyers South Shields.

Following a cagey first half with few chances for either team, the Stripes eventually took the initiative following a red card for violent conduct received by Shields’ Darius Osei at the beginning of the second half.

A raft of chances for the Colls soon followed, with Joel Amado shooting inches wide moments later.

Marcus Cusani, who put in an immaculate performance despite being singled out for intense pressure by the opposition, was next to create an opportunity, firing high and wide following a promising breakaway for the Black and Whites.

The standout chance of the game then fell to Aaron Smith, who was fed a perfect ball courtesy of Danny Lambert following a free-kick, only to be denied a clear shot on goal by an exceptional rush by Shields’ stopper Myles Boney.

Moments later, the Mariners’ Jack Bodenham gave the visitors the lead against the run of play, converting a Nathan Lowe free-kick with a near-post finish after 75 minutes.

The pressure generated by the Colls was only intensified following this goal, as Gaz Peet almost converted a spectacular free-kick from an incredibly tight angle after 77 minutes, having been a thorn in the side for the Mariners throughout the match.

At this stage, attacking reinforcements were provided with the introduction of Matty Gillam and Elliot Rokka for the Stripes, a decision that would pay dividends within moments.

After 82 minutes, the Colls goal eventually came. Following a great run down the flank, Gaz Peet created a perfect opportunity for Matty Gillam to convert with confidence.

The side-footed near-post effort earned the Black and Whites a deserved point, and sparked great celebrations as the frustrations of their recent goal drought were ended.

The Mariners’ Dan Martin received a second yellow for a cynical foul on Peet deep into stoppage time, as the Colls created further chances in the dying embers of the match, pressing for a winner that ultimately never came.

Colls will look to build on the momentum gained from a hard-earned share of the spoils when they travel to Buxton tonight, before a newly-scheduled fixture at Mickleover in the league on Saturday (3pm).