Newton Aycliffe gained a well-earned draw away to sixth-placed West Auckland.
The Newtonians stretched their unbeaten league run to four games after coming from behind twice in this derby just before Christmas.
Aycliffe almost scored in the first minute when a Kurt Matthews header was cleared off the line.
After that, the first half play was even. Marc Costello had Aycliffe’s best chance when he looked to finish off a good team move, but shot wide.
Aycliffe had a good penalty shout for handball on the half hour, but this was turned down.
West went ahead three minutes before the break, when Liam Browne miss-kicked his clearance straight to Ben Wood, who hit a well-struck shot past James Winter.
West had another let-off straight from the second half kick-off when keeper McHugh misjudged the flight of the ball, and appeared to handle outside the area.
Aycliffe didn’t let their heads drop and equalised on 70 minutes. Paul Weldon swung in a free-kick, and Matty Pennal headed it past McHugh.
Aycliffe were then guilty of another defensive lapse, as Alan Harrison gave the ball away and Francis struck his shot into the top corner for 2-1.
Aycliffe came back strongly and dominated the last quarter hour. They equalised when Weldon hit a free-kick into the top corner of the net on 86 minutes.
They went agonisingly close to winning in the fourth minute of injury-time when Pennal chipped the keeper, only to see the strong wind keep the ball out of the net.
Aycliffe’s scheduled game at Team Northumbria on December 30 was postponed – they’re due to entertain Jarrow Roofing at Moore Lane Park on Saturday (January 6).