WILL Grocott’s second-half penalty ensured Stratford Town came away with a point as the Bards were held to a 1-1 draw with Ilkeston Town.
Grocott converted from the spot on 63 minutes after Jack Thomas put the visitors ahead in first-half injury time at the Arden Garages Stadium.
The result means Stratford remain in the Southern League Premier Central relegation zone in 20th place, six points from safety with three games in hand.
Ilkeston’s lineup boasted former Premier League stars Leroy Lita and Lee Tomlin whilst Paul McCone and Aksum White returned to Stratford’s starting XI.
And the Bards made a decent start as Callum Ebanks blasted over from the edge of the penalty area in a half that saw Stratford fail to register a shot on target.
The home side almost took the lead in fortuitous circumstances when Andre Wright’s cross was turned onto his own crossbar by Ilkeston’s Joe Wilson.
At the other end, McCone superbly headed off the line to keep the scores level before Liam O’Brien made a terrific save to deny Dempsey Arlott-John.
However, the Bards were powerless to prevent Ilkeston from taking the lead three minutes into time added on at the end of the first half as Thomas’s shot took a wicked deflection on its way into the net.
Stratford improved after the break as Ebanks twice shot over the bar when well-placed before Grocott scored from the penalty spot just past the hour mark after Wright was fouled in the box by Ilkeston goalkeeper Rhys Davies.
Both teams searched for a winner in the remaining minutes as Jesse Akubuine fired wide for Stratford before heading off the line at the other end to ensure the Bards came away with a share of the spoils.
Stratford are next in action away at Nuneaton Borough on Saturday, February 11 with kick-off at 3pm at Liberty Way.