A late own goal rescued a point for Beckwithshaw Saints on Saturday as they lost ground to Harrogate & District leaders Harlow Hill.
As table toppers Harlow were without a match, Saints had hoped to underline their championship credentials and close the gap to four points.
But spirited Clifford held them 2-2 at Beckwithshaw’s Village Hall ground.
The Saints were buoyed by the return of last year’s leading scorer Sylvester Rowe and captain Joe Kay.
But the visitors started the brighter and Saints keeper Keith Mackenzie was kept busy. Just as it seemed as though the half would end even, a push in the box by left winger Dom Creamer meant Clifford were given a penalty which was dispatched.
After the restart, Saints deservedly equalised through central midfielder Lewis Gentle, whose swerving left footed effort found the top corner.
The visitors took the lead again with five minutes to go. However, there was one last twist in the tale, as Saints grabbed an equaliser.
A free-kick taken by Paul Atkinson caught the wind and deflected off a Clifford defender’s head at pace to nestle in the bottom corner. The point put Saints third.
Meanwhile, rock-bottom Pateley Bridge thrashed Kirkby Malzeard 4-2 away. The Badgers fought back from 2-0 down to earn their first points.
Tenth-placed Pannal Sports were cast aside 6-2 at Otley Rovers.
Meantime, Hampsthwaite United and Hampthswaite FC continued their promotion assault in Division One with victories on Saturday.
United thrashed Beckwithshaw Saints Reserves 4-1 to stay second. Fourth-placed rivals Hampsthwaite FC edged AFC Hillside 4-3.
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